Biden's Bill Makes It 'Virtually Impossible' for Religious Child Care to Get Funding
Build Back Better legislation blocks money for facilities used for 'religious worship'
Democrat Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" spending bill will make it "virtually impossible" for religious child care providers to receive federal funding, according to reports.
Language in the legislation has prompted a backlash as it blocks federal funds from being given to facilities that are "used primarily for sectarian instruction or religious worship."
The bill, H.R. 5376, passed by the House of Representatives last month but is currently stalled in the split Senate.
It provides $390 billion for child care and universal pre-K with a substantial portion reserved for states to distribute.
However, part of the bill requires that money must not go toward facilities that "are used primarily for sectarian instruction or religious worship."
Other provisions include potentially problematic nondiscrimination restrictions.
They also risk forcing providers out of state-based universal pre-K programs, according to a letter signed by multiple religious organizations.
The letter was sent to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) on Dec. 1.
"While language in the BBBA [Build Back Better Act] does not preclude parents from selecting sectarian providers, the subsequent provisions in the bill text make it virtually impossible for many religious providers to participate," read the letter, which was signed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, among others.
While it's unclear exactly how the legislative language will be applied, the letter pointed to a poll showing a substantial chunk of American families use child care centers "affiliated with a faith organization."
The poll, which was conducted by Morning Consult and the Bipartisan Policy Center, found:
"In January 2020, 31% of households with a single parent or two working parents used center-based care, and over half (53%) of these families used one that was affiliated with a faith organization."
The Biden White House has defended its child care initiative, saying:
"The Build Back Better framework will enable states to expand access to free preschool for more than 6 million children per year and increase the quality of preschool for many more children already enrolled.
"Importantly, parents will be able to send children to high-quality preschool in the setting of their choice — from public schools to child care providers to Head Start.
"The program will lead to lifelong educational and economic benefits for children and parents, and is a transformational investment in America’s future economic competitiveness."