Term Paper: Child Support Distribution Act

Pages: 5 (1490 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] After its introduction, H.R. 4678 was referred to several committees, including the Committee on Ways and Means, the Subcommittee on Human Resources, the House Judiciary, the Subcommittee on Immigration and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. The bill was finally placed on Union Calendar 459 and was debated on the floor in September 7, 2000.

For opponents of the bill, two main provisions were the sticking points. First, Rep. Robert Scott of Virginia sought to amend the provision that allows faith-based organizations to receive federal grants to institute skills-training program for fathers. Scott protested that by law, institutions that receive federal money were prohibited from promoting sectarian worship, instruction and proselytization. By allowing churches and religious organizations to administer federal funds, Scott argued that the bill violates the separation between church and state.

Another dissenter, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, protested a provision that would allow the government to access a new hires database in order to track down deadbeat dads. Though the new hires database is a powerful tool to force fathers to face their child support responsibilities, Paul argued that this provision is unconstitutional and a violation of an individual's right to privacy.

Despite these arguments, the Child Support Distribution Act was passed and referred to the Senate.

The Senate version, S.918, was introduced by Senator Olympia J. Snowe on May 21, 2001. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Evan Bayh, John Breaux, Christopher Dodd, Bob Graham, Tim Johnson, Herb Kohl, Mary Landrieu, Joseph Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, John D. Rockefeller IV, and Robert G. Toricelli. Its contents are identical to the House version.

Unfortunately, S.918 would not see any floor debate. After being read twice, the bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Finance, awaiting a referral. No further actions were taken regarding this bill until Congress adjourned.

Despite its generally beneficial provisions, both versions of the Child Support Distribution Act can have detrimental effects on women who receive money for child support. As pointed out by Rep. Scott, the bill authorizes federal grants to faith-based organizations to provide the fathers with skills training. In addition, the bill also gives bigger welfare incentives to children whose parents get married, a provision that subtly discriminates against single mothers.

In addition, the National Organization for Women (NOW) warns that providing millions in federal money to men's custody groups will help men either take sole custody or avoid child support altogether (Erickson). If this happens, low-income women who cannot afford legal help stand to lose child support or even custody of their kids.

These issues aside, reforming the system through which child support payments are distributed would have been a boon to mothers who are trying to raise children on their own.

The payments would have increased without additional expenses for the taxpayers. A more stable household would also have long-term benefits for both children and their families.

One reason why the bill never went past the Senate's Committee on Finance was the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Most social service bills took a backseat to more urgent measures involving security.

The first session of the 108th Congress has adjourned until January 2003, without the Child Support Distribution Act seeing any debate or floor action. However, Senator Snowe, the bill's principal sponsor, is still in office and is a member of the Committee on Finance, where the bill is currently awaiting referral. In addition, President George Bush is a strong support of laws which promote the institutions of family and marriage. Given these factors, there is still a chance that the Child Support Distribution Act or other similar measures will eventually be debated on the Senate floor.

Works Cited

Clinton, William J. "Statement on House of Representatives action on the Child Support Distribution Act" Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents; Washington; Sep 11, 2000: 2020.

Erikson, Jan. "Child support linked with Fathers' Rights Bill" National NOW Times; Washington; Winter 2001: 11.

House okays bill to send child support to parents." Chicago Tribune 8 September 2000: 12.

Moore, Melissa. "Children of young disadvantaged women are unlikely to receive consistent support from their fathers" Family Planning Perspectives; New York; Nov/Dec 1998: 291-292.

United States. Cong. House of Representatives. 107th Congress. H.R. 4678. Child Support Distribution Act of 2001. [introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives; 1 May 2001].

Thomas Federal Legislation Database, 106th Congress.

Viewed 20 November 2002. http://www.thomas.loc.gov

United States.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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