The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) did not support a quick fix to end the government shutdown on Monday partially because of unanswered questions surrounding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which scores of African-American kids depend on. In particular, the bill signed by the president does not provide sufficient long-term funding for CHIP and it fails to “responsibly address” other important issues, the group’s chairman Rep. Cedric L. Richmond said in a statement.
“The short-term spending bill that the Congressional Black Caucus rejected this week was the fourth short-term continuing resolution that Congressional Republicans have brought forward this fiscal year,” the chairman said, noting that the shutdown was avoidable if the president had negotiated “in good faith.”
President Donald Trump signed the bill on Monday night that funds the government until February 8. Many are now breathing a sigh of relief that the plan, though short term, funds CHIP for six years. But the CBC argued that funding should have been extended for 10 years, which would have saved the government $6 billion. The public health insurance program for almost 9 million children of working-class families had been caught in the middle of the congressional budget battle for months. During that time, several national CHIP programs, which states operate with significant federal contributions, began shutting down or scaling back services because the federal budget for the program ended on Sept. 30.
The CBC also objected to the measure because it failed to fund the Community Health Centers program and other sources of health care services to low-income patients. “Sick kids can’t use their health insurance at an unfunded and shuttered health facility,” Richmond stated. He also pointed to the urgent need to fund disaster relief efforts after the damaging hurricane season, as well as the need to fix the DACA (Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals) program.