- Washington Report
Congress has been taking action on issues important to children’s health before heading out of town for recess in mid-July. Here are some of the priorities gaining steam on Capitol Hill and on the Academy’s radar:
Ensuring children’s access to specialty care: The AAP-supported Ensuring Children’s Access to Specialty Care Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bill aims to address the shortage of medical and surgical subspecialists in the pediatric workforce. With an identical bill in the House, the Academy is working to build momentum for its advancement.
Supporting the inclusion of children in clinical research: 75 members of Congress signed letters to the National Institutes of Health, encouraging the agency to track and publish data on the numbers of children included in its research. The Academy led efforts mobilizing pediatricians to encourage their members of Congress to support the letters.
Protecting children from laundry detergent packet poisonings: Several members of Congress referenced a Pediatrics study showing the dangers laundry detergent packets pose to children in an effort to renew momentum for legislation addressing the poisoning concern, including shout-outs from Twitter and on the Senate floor.
Reauthorizing child nutrition programs: Both the House and Senate have introduced legislation to reauthorize critical child nutrition programs. The Academy and its members will continue to urge a strong, bipartisan bill as the legislative process advances.
Keeping children safe on airplanes: The Senate passed its Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, including an AAP-championed provision requiring the agency to update emergency medical kits onboard commercial airplanes with appropriate medical equipment for children. The Academy will be working to ensure the provision is included in the final reauthorization bill.
- Promoting global food security: The House and Senate passed versions of the AAP-endorsed Global Food Security Act, which supports the nutritional needs of women and children and focuses on reducing child stunting. Both chambers must decide whether to resolve the differences in their bills or if one chamber will pass the other’s version.
The Academy joined more than 170 organizations in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, advocating for legal counsel for immigrant children and objecting to the practice of pursuing deportation proceedings against children who do not have it.
Approximately 70% of unaccompanied children do not have legal representation during deportation proceedings, which increases their likelihood of being deported, regardless of the merits of their case or the dangers they would face if returned to their home countries. Currently, there is no right to appointed counsel in non-criminal immigration removal proceedings, even if the person is a child.
One of the letter signatories, the National Immigration Law Center released the report Blazing a Trail: The Fight for Right to Counsel in Detention and Beyond. The report, at http://bit.ly/1SOY35H, focuses on the need to ensure universal right to counsel for all detained immigrants.
For more information on the Academy’s federal priorities and opportunities for advocacy action, visit http://federaladvocacy.aap.org.