Rep. Abby Finkenauer talked to First Focus from her home state of Iowa, where she wants all kids and families to have access to health care and affordable, high-quality child care.

“Our children come first,” she tells First Focus on Children President Bruce Lesley. “They’re the future of our country, they’re the future of the states we live in.”

The freshman lawmaker introduced with Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) the bipartisan Comprehensive Access to Robust Insurance Now Guaranteed (CARING) for Kids Act (H.R.6151), which would make the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) permanent. CHIP provides health insurance to roughly 10 million children. Unlike Medicare and other permanent programs, CHIP is the only federal health insurance program subject to expiration, funding cliffs, offsets, and re-authorization votes. During two of the last four re-authorization battles, CHIP actually expired, jeopardizing the health and well-being of millions of children and families.

“We’re talking about children’s health,” says Finkenauer, who watched lawmakers “holding CHIP essentially hostage” during her 2018 run for Congress. “This is not something that should ever be used as a political football.”