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With control of the House up in the air and an unprecedented number of vulnerable incumbents in the Senate, Congress has recessed until after the elections. Lawmakers still have a long list of unfinished agenda items before the end of the 115th Congress. As Capitol Hill powers down until the second week of November, attention is shifting toward the lame duck session. For more, please read on. Please note the PCA America Public Policy newsletter is on hiatus during Congressional Recess, however, will report pertinent news as it arises.

Senate Recesses Until After Election as Congress Looks Toward Lame Duck Session

On October 11th, Senate leadership struck a deal to confirm 15 federal judges to the Second, Third and Ninth circuits and then recess until after the November 6 mid-term elections. Senators originally expected to stay in session for the remainder of October to work through the confirmation of a host judicial nominees, making it difficult for vulnerable Members to campaign during their final push before the election. The confirmation of federal judges is seen as a “win” for Senate Republicans, while Senate Democrats are eager to return to their states to campaign- 10 seats up for reelection belong to Democrats in states that President Trump won in 2016. With the deal behind them, Republican lawmakers are now pivoting their attention to the lame duck session to achieve their priorities, in case control of the House goes to the Democrats in 2019. Their to-do list includes finalizing spending for Fiscal Year 2019 for the seven bills that are currently operating under a continuing resolution (this is expected to lead to negotiations about border wall funding), reauthorization of the Farm Bill and the Violence Against Women Act and a possible technical corrections bill to last year’s tax reform initiative.

Trump Administration Releases Proposed Definition of Public Charge

On October 10th, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), posted a notice in the Federal Register seeking comment on how it determines whether an “alien” is inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because he or she is likely at any time to become a “public charge.” The term “public charge” refers to an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. DHS proposes to define “public charge” and define the types of public benefits that are considered in public charge inadmissibility determinations. DHS proposes to clarify that it will make “public charge” inadmissibility determinations based on consideration of the factors and in the totality of an individual’s circumstances. The proposed rule affects a broad range of the U.S. immigrant population and allows government officials to consider the use of an applicant’s public services such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing assistance when determining eligibility for green cards and/or lawful admission to the U.S. Not only would this proposed rule have repercussions for the economic well-being of immigrant families, but it will also undermine family unity and stability by making it harder for parents to enter, or remain in, the country with their children. It is important the Department of Homeland Security hears from as many as possible. Click here to view a factsheet First Focus put together.

Comments will be accepted until December 10, 2018.

For more information, go to:

Office of Head Start Offers Information to Support Families Experiencing Homelessness

Last week, the office of Head Start posted an interactive learning series on topics that encompass child and family homelessness. The eight 30-minute modules provided best practices and technical support to early childhood professionals on topics ranging from connecting with families experiencing homelessness to community outreach to the technicalities of the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act. Once all modules are completed, participants can download a completion certificate. The series is interactive and free to use. It can be found on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center website.

To view the homelessness resources, go here.

Rand Corporation Releases Report on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Social and Emotional Learning Interventions (SEL) Under the Every Student Succeeds Act provides guidance about evidence-based interventions under ESSA on key topics in education. The authors summarize evidence on SEL interventions for K–12 students and provide an overview on opportunities for supporting ESSA. The report also touches on SEL interventions that meet ESSA standards of evidence and how these programs might be eligible for federal funds through ESSA.

Read the full report here.