Spotlight Exclusives

Congressional Staff See Bipartisan Paths to Progress on Family Issues

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Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, along with American Policy Ventures and with  support  from  the  Doris Duke Foundation, hosted a bipartisan discussion Wednesday with key congressional staffers to explore shared policy priorities and set a foundation for a longer conversation on how policymakers can work together to improve the lives of American families.

The conversation was led by Kadia Goba, a politics reporter for Semafor, and was introduced by JooYeun Chang, program director for Child Well-being at the Doris Duke Foundation. A few highlights of the discussion:

  • On the current debate on work requirements for some safety net programs as part of the debt limit negotiations, panelists saw few signs of compromise. “I’ll be honest and say in terms of work requirements in the debt negotiations, I find that really hard to imagine,” said Jennifer Chandler, Chief of Staff for Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) “A lot of the recent research coming out shows that they quite frankly have not been effective in increasing employment.”
  • There was bipartisan interest in possible legislation that would make child birth free. “We’re having really productive conversations across the aisle about it,” said Jacob Reses, Chief of Staff for Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio). “And one of the things that’s really exciting about this problem is it’s a problem that’s just so obvious to so many people and there’s a really broad range of interests ideologically both on the Democratic side and on the Republican side.”
  • There are active discussions across the aisle about potentially reviving a version of the expanded Child Tax Credit, though the issue of work requirements remains a central question to be decided. Stephen Newton, former Deputy Legislative Director for Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), said he for one felt the issue had been resolved. “I think that the question on whether or not you have a work requirement in the Child Tax Credit has been definitively decided and there will be a work requirement,” he said. “And you can quote me on this.”
  • Michelle Dorothy, Chief of Staff for Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), expressed confidence that the bipartisan paid leave group her boss has founded with Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), can achieve real results. “I’m actually quite optimistic,” Dorothy said. “There is still a whole lot of work to do, but we’re now hopefully in the third Congress in a row to make progress on this issue, so we’re not starting from scratch. Rep. Bice is a really great partner.”

Chang framed the discussion by outlining some of the guiding principles for the Doris Duke Foundation. “At Doris Duke, we believe that all children deserve the opportunity to thrive in strong families and supportive communities. We also recognize that all families need help sometimes, and that although foundations can support innovation, policy is what matters and policy that is bipartisan and the result of consultation healthy debate and compromise is both what the American people want and children and families need.”

American Policy Ventures C0-Founder and Co-President Liam deClive-Lowe closed the event by saying that a changed approach to family policy by many Republicans and Democrats and the rise of bipartisan working groups makes him optimistic about “small but significant opportunities to get things done in a bipartisan way over the next couple of years.”

Other panelists were Neri Martinez, Chief of Staff for Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Scott Fairchild, Chief of Staff for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.V.)

Watch the event here.

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