Duckworth Leads Senate Colleagues in Calling for $15 Billion Investment in Reconciliation to Fix Substandard Military Childcare Facilities and Barracks
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) led seven of her Senate colleagues in sending a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY-03) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) drawing attention to the dilapidated state of military child development centers and barracks and calling for a transformational $15 billion investment as part of the forthcoming budget reconciliation package. U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16) led a similar effort in the House last week. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years and is Chair of the SASC Airland Subcommittee.
“We face a crisis in the quality and capacity of facilities for child care for military families and housing for unaccompanied military personnel,” the Senators wrote. “The U.S. military has 135 child development centers in “Poor” or “Failing” condition, and in 2020 DoD reported nearly 9,000 children of servicemembers on waitlists with immediate need for child care. We have seen barracks that remind us of tenements and are wholly unacceptable for servicemembers to live in. The Army alone needs $10 billion to bring its barracks to “Good” condition.
In May, Duckworth and Speier introduced legislation to support military families by enhancing childcare services and expanding parental leave for servicemembers. Specifically, the legislation would authorize the U.S. Secretary of Defense to expand an in-home childcare subsidy pilot program, direct the U.S. Secretary of Defense to conduct a pilot program on the expansion of public-private childcare partnerships, authorize a study into current poor and failing conditions of military Child Development Centers (CDCs) and provide a near-term fix for poor CDC conditions.
This letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).
Full text of the letter can be found here and below.
Dear Chairmen Sanders and Yarmuth:
We face a crisis in the quality and capacity of facilities for child care for military families and housing for unaccompanied military personnel. The U.S. military has 135 child development centers in “Poor” or “Failing” condition, and in 2020 DoD reported nearly 9,000 children of servicemembers on waitlists with immediate need for child care. We have seen barracks that remind us of tenements and are wholly unacceptable for servicemembers to live in. The Army alone needs $10 billion to bring its barracks to “Good” condition.
Annual appropriations are not sufficient to resolve this backlog—and meet our moral responsibility to provide servicemembers and military families with quality facilities with sufficient capacity for child care and decent, safe, modern housing. We believe that the upcoming reconciliation package is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do right by our military families. We request that you include the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in the reconciliation instructions in the upcoming budget resolution for the purpose of devoting $5 billion to military child development center facilities projects and $10 billion to barracks modernization. Such an investment will improve the quality of life and safety for servicemembers, promote the positive development of military children, and help military spouses obtain and maintain employment, further supporting the financial health of military families. It is one of the most important things we can do as a Congress to show support for the men and women who put their lives on the line for America.
Thank you for considering this request as you assemble this package to invest in the critical needs of Americans.
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