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House Roll Call: 310     Vote Date: Jun 20th, 2017

Issue: H.R. 2866, Reducing Unnecessary Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act. Question: On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass, as Amended.

Result: Passed in House, 382 to 19, 29 not voting. GOP and Democrats scored.

Freedom First Society:   This bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop model standards for the licensing of foster family homes. Moreover, it would require the states to implement those standards or explain why not — unconstitutional! The Constitution does not empower the federal government to become involved in the child-raising business nor to dictate child-raising policy to the states.

There was no opposition to H.R. 2866 from the Democrats, and only 19 Republicans had the understanding and backbone to vote nay.

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

Congressional Research Service Summary: This bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify reputable model standards for the licensing of foster family homes.

Part E (Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) of title IV of the Social Security Act is amended to require state plans for foster care and adoption assistance to require submission to HHS of information addressing:

  • whether the state licensing standards are in accord with HHS-identified model standards, and if not, the reason for the specific deviation and a description of why having a standard that is reasonably in accord with the corresponding national model standards is not appropriate for the state;
  • whether the state has elected to waive certain standards for relative foster family homes, a description of standards most commonly waived, and if the state has not so elected, the reason why;
  • if the state has elected to waive such standards, how caseworkers are trained to use the waiver authority and whether the state has developed a process or offered tools to assist caseworkers in waiving nonsafety standards to quickly place children with relatives; and
  • a description of the steps the state is taking to improve caseworker training or the process, if any.

Analysis: With the passage of the 1935 Social Security Act during the Great Depression, the federal government took over control and direction of a whole spectrum of state welfare programs. H.R. 2866 would extend the unconstitutional federal overreach of that watershed New Deal legislation by imposing new requirements on states regarding foster care licensing as well as new reporting requirements.

The pretext for H.R. 2866 flows from the collectivist vision that if there’s a problem, the federal government should address it, regardless of any constitutional limitations.   Indeed, the Insider Establishment regularly uses the pretense of humanitarian concern to advance a totalitarian power grab.

The federal monster thus created increasingly threatens our freedom while undermining our standard of living.

In 1953, free-lance writer Garet Garret astutely pointed out:

“In these twenty years [since the launch of FDR’s New Deal] a revolution took place in the relationship between government and people. Formerly government was the responsibility of people; now people were the responsibility of government.” — The People’s Pottage, 1953, p. 9.

With the development of federal deep pockets thru the Federal Reserve Act and the income tax, that revolution has also extended to the federal-state relationship. The federal government now assumes that it has responsibility to manage the states.

Think with Heart?

Proponents of H.R. 2866 heralded the overwhelming bipartisanship support for this measure as evidence that the people’s House could think with its heart. But America’s founders were guided by wisdom born of experience, not mindless heart and socialist propaganda.

If representatives today had the voter-supplied backbone to respect their oath to uphold the Constitution, they could make the case that the growth of the federal monster is largely responsible for America’s decline — morally, socially, and economically.

By design, the Establishment-controlled media no longer emphasize the importance of principle-based government, in particular constitutionally limited government, where problems are addressed at the lowest level of government, if government needs to be involved at all.

Congress now has enormous difficulty in controlling the direction of the monster it has created.   Even House legislation that has overwhelming support, good or usually bad, often requires years and multiple attempts before it is taken up by the Senate and becomes law.

Excerpts from Congressional Record:

Cosponsor Mike Kelly (R-PA-03):

“As a matter of good public policy, we should be making the placement process much easier for family members, not more difficult, because it is often in the best interest of the child.   Studies show that placing foster children with relatives solves many of the problems children face when being placed into foster care; moreover, it improves the outcomes for these children. Children are more likely to succeed when they can stay with a family member of their own and someone they are already familiar with and know.”

[FFS: Sounds reasonable, but the federal government properly lacks the authority to force the states to implement such policy. Moreover, with this bill, Congress does not actually specify the model/policy, but leaves it up to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine what are “reputable model licensing standards.” Suppose a future liberal Secretary determines that “same-sex couples” deserve special favorable consideration.]

“The problem is that, while current law allows States to waive certain licensing standards when placing children with relatives, many States have been slow to implement the law. One of the purported reasons is that caseworkers are slow or they simply don’t know how to place children with relatives because of a lack of training on their part. Today, caseworkers may not be adequately trained regarding their ability to waive certain standards when licensing relatives…. Representative Smucker’s bill, H.R. 2866, will help remedy this problem… States, subsequently, would need to do their part by submitting their plans to be in compliance with model standards for family foster care placement. Additionally, States would need to explain how caseworkers in their respective States are being trained.” [Emphasis added.]

Cosponsor Terri A Sewell (D-AL-07):

[Colloquy with cosponsor Mike Kelley]

“Is it your expectation that the National Association for Regulatory Administration’s Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards would be the kind of standards envisioned by the bill?”   Mr. Kelly: “My feeling is the National Association for Regulatory Administration’s Model Foster Home Licensing Standards would be a prime example of what HHS should consider.”   Ms. Sewell: “I thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania for that response.”

Cosponsor Danny K. Davis (D-IL-07):

H.R. 2866 requires States to modernize their licensing standards to align with the best practices in licensing. This is a commonsense and important change…. To understand the use of waivers, Children’s Bureau should collect data on State’s granting waivers for nonsafety licensing standards for relatives, including the number of relatives applying for waivers, the number of waivers issued or denied, and the reason for denial.” [Emphasis added.]

Cosponsor Karen Bass (D-CA-37):

“Ironically, in the 1990s, when the crack cocaine epidemic hit, that was the first time that women started using drugs equal to men. It hadn’t happened before, and so families fell apart. One of the things that happened, in the early 1990s, was in the middle of the night a grandmother might be called and three grandchildren delivered to her by Children’s Protective Services. The grandmother would take the children without any support and without any knowledge of how to deal with the trauma that the children faced….”

“One of the things we did in Los Angeles was we organized the grandmothers, and we trained them how to go before the board of supervisors and advocate on their own behalf. That happened all around the country…. So there began a national movement for relative caregivers to fighting for their rights and for services.” [Emphasis added.]

FFS: National movements require organization and funding. If we recognize the prevalence today of revolutionary organizations with hidden subversive agendas, we should be suspicious when the sponsoring organizers are not mentioned. Also, the federal government, responding to revolutionary influences, often produces the “poison and the antidote” in the same laboratory.   The modern attack on the traditional family and pushing religion out of public life cannot help but contribute to the problems Bass cited.