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Contact: Michele Kayal
Phone: 703-919-8778

“Good, solid budget” benefits children But leaves millions without free school meals

Federal Budget

The $1.5 trillion spending bill signed this afternoon by President Biden keeps the federal investment in children from returning to historic lows.

During the Trump Administration, the share of federal spending on children fell to 7.6%, a record low since First Focus on Children began tracking. The omnibus budget that cleared Congress last week falls well below President Biden’s FY 2022 request — and loses some key provisions such as flexibility on school lunch — but avoids that low-water mark.

“We’re pleased that Congress found its way to this good, solid budget for children, and we thank our legislative champions for their tireless efforts,” said First Focus on Children President Bruce Lesley. “We eagerly await the president’s FY 2023 request and continue to urge the Administration to create a children’s budget that would track spending on kids’ programs and services across all agencies and departments.”

First Focus on Children repeatedly has called for a Children’s Budget to review both domestic and international spending priorities and create a framework for improving rules to coordinate and improve the well-being of all our nation’s children. The Administration should establish a Children’s Cabinet, create a Cross Agency Priority on child well-being to help achieve this goal, and quickly stand up the Children’s Interagency Coordinating Council at HHS as called for in Congressional report language. Two bills in Congress, the Focus on Children Act, sponsored by Sen. Chris VanHollen (D-MD), and the Children’s Budget Act, sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), also would create greater transparency in federal budget decisions.

“The president’s budget can tell you across agencies how much the government spends on items like weather monitoring,” Lesley added. “We do it for homeland security, for veterans, for the Export-Import Bank. We can, and should, do the same for our nation’s children.”

Sadly, the final FY 2022 budget failed to extend waivers that made it easier for millions of children to receive free school meals. First Focus on Children recently joinedtwo-dozen organizations urging Congress to include the extension.