A Conservative Approach to Early Childhood Education: Building on the Foundations of Success & Boosting Academic Achievement Through Choice

Representative Burgess Owens*

I. INTRODUCTION

As the son of an educator and a grandfather to sixteen school-aged children, I believe that Early Childhood Education (“ECE”) is essential for many reasons, one of which is that ECE simultaneously provides support for children to learn, for parents to enter the workplace, and for future generations of American workers to grow. I have seen the importance of ECE firsthand as a father and grandfather, as well as in my role as Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.

Raising children is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences in a person’s life. As part of that process, ensuring that children have a solid start is the first step to helping them grow and develop. One of the most important tools at a parent’s disposal is ECE, access to which has significant impact on the foundations that are built for children from birth to fifth grade.1 See Early Childhood Education, CTRS. FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION, https://www.cdc.gov/policy/hst/hi5/earlychildhoodeducation/index.html [https://perma.cc/HZQ3-K5GQ].  The impact of high-quality early education on childhood development and beyond cannot be overstated. Americans of all political stripes, alongside local municipalities and private sector partners, must work together to support a strong child care sector that assists hardworking American families.

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a significant blow to child care, in-person education, and the American workforce. When most of the economy was shut down, schools and child care centers also shut down.2 See Map: Coronavirus and School Cloures in 2019-2020, EDWEEK (Mar. 6, 2020), https://www.edweek.org/leadership/map-coronavirus-and-school-closures-in-2019-2020/2020/03#:~:text=The%20coronavirus%20pandemic%20forced%20a,6%20to%20May%2015%2C%202020. [https://perma.cc/X9Z8-NFZH]; NAT’L ASS’N FOR THE EDUC. YOUNG CHILDREN, AM I NEXT SACRIFICING TO STAY OPEN, CHILD CARE PROVIDERS FACE A BLEAK FUTURE WITHOUT RELIEF (2020). As the pandemic wore on, many schools remained closed, but child care providers worked to remain open or reopen because they recognized their importance in keeping America going and helping families and children succeed.3See Anya Kamenetz, What Parents Can Learn from Child Care Centers That Stayed Open During Lockdowns, NPR (June 24, 2020, 7:01 AM), https://www.npr.org/2020/06/24/882316641/what-parents-can-learn-from-child-care-centers-that-stayed-open-during-lockdowns [https://perma.cc/FG84-DPRF].

When combating these challenges, we must remember that the beginning years of a child’s life are the building blocks upon which they rely on to create a bright future. Without access to high-quality care, as defined by meeting the specific needs of each child, it is often more difficult for parents to go to work or further their own education. Access to ECE in America will help determine the success of future generations. It is imperative that we think outside the box and focus wholly on children by protecting parental choice, saving taxpayer dollars, and prioritizing the future workforce of America. The time to work together for bipartisan childcare solutions that encompass program alignment across federal, state, and local governments is now.  We have no time to waste—parents are waiting, children are growing, and our nation is falling behind as a leader in education.

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Volume 59, Issue 1

Policy Essay

Representative Andy Levin & Colton Puckett
1

Articles

Kimberly Jenkins Robinson
35
Kristen Underhill & Ian Ayres
101
Jaime S. King, Katherine L. Gudiksen, & Erin C. Fuse Brown
145

Note

Christopher Cruz
223

Legal Constraints on Executive Power to Manage Agency Vacancies

Lauren Shapiro*

I. INTRODUCTION

Throughout the history of the Republic, high-level government offices have often gone unfilled for periods of time.1 See Nina A. Mendelson, The Permissibility of Acting Officials: May the President Work Around Senate Confirmation?, 72 ADMIN. L. REV. 533, 578 (2020); see also Anne Joseph O’Connell, Actings, 120 COLUM. L. REV. 613, 638–41 (2020) (citing past research and statistical data on vacancy rates). Such vacancies occur for a variety of reasons—perhaps the President has failed to nominate a permanent officeholder, the Senate has stalled on a nominee’s confirmation vote, or the original confirmed officeholder has died, resigned, become sick, or been fired.2 See 5 U.S.C. § 3345(a) (specifying that the FVRA applies when covered Senate-confirmed officers “die. . ., resign. . ., or [are] otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of [their] office.”); see generally Ben Miller-Gootnick, Note, Boundaries of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, 56 HARV. J. ON LEGIS. 459 (2019) (contending that the FVRA does not apply to firings). Historically, regardless of the reason, extended vacancies for top positions requiring Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation (“PAS” positions) have been rare.3 See O’Connell, supra note 1, at 645, 648; see also Mendelson, supra note 1, at 582 (citing Thomas Berry, Is Matthew Whitaker’s Appointment Constitutional? An Examination of the Early Vacancies Acts, YALE J. ON REG.: NOTICE & COMMENT (2018), https://www.yalejreg.com/nc/is-matthew-whitakers-appointment-constitutional-an-examination-of-the-early-vacancies-acts-by-thomas-berry/ [https://perma.cc/NTL8-XD6F]) (“Berry elaborated further that periods of [acting] service [pre-1860], including for the ad interim appointments, generally were extremely short—on the order of days or weeks rather than months or years.”).

The Trump administration departed from this trend: it faced more vacancies for PAS positions—and filled them with longer-serving acting officials—than any prior administration for which data exists.4 See O’Connell, supra note 1, at 623, 643–57; see also ANNE JOSEPH O’CONNELL, ACTING AGENCY OFFICIALS AND DELEGATIONS OF AUTHORITY (2019), https://www.acus.gov/sites/default/files/documents/final-report-acting-agency-officials-12012019.pdf [https://perma.cc/D7CR-BX3Q] (“President Trump’s acting Secretaries have served longer, on average, than recent Administrations.”) [hereinafter O’CONNELL, ACTING AGENCY OFFICIALS]. Acting officials, who are not Senate-confirmed to the relevant position, occupied several high-level posts for years during the Trump administration.5 See BOB COHEN ET. AL, P’SHIP FOR PUB. SERV., THE REPLACEMENTS: WHY AND HOW “ACTING” OFFICIALS ARE MAKING SENATE CONFIRMATION OBSOLETE 7–8 (2020), https://ourpublicservice.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/The-Replacements-1.pdf [https://perma.cc/Z2LR-TUX8]. Some positions, such as the State Department Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights Issues, remained perennially vacant.6Id.

Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (“FVRA”), extremely long tenures of acting officials such as these must eventually come to an end. Pursuant to the FVRA, when the permissible period for acting service expires, the PAS position again becomes vacant, and “only the head of [the] agency may perform any function or duty of [the] office.”75 U.S.C. § 3348(b)(2) (2004). If someone other than the head of the agency performs the functions and duties of the again-vacant office, the resulting actions will be rendered void ab initio.85 U.S.C. § 3348(d)(1) (2004).

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Reconceptualizing Congressional Decision-making Around Well-being: A Health in All Policies Approach

Congressman TJ Cox, Dr. Kathy Murphy, & Rebecca Kahn

I. INTRODUCTION

Protecting and promoting the public’s health is one of the most important roles of government. The preamble of the United States Constitution states that our government’s role is to “secure the blessings of Liberty” and “insure domestic Tranquility” through the establishment of “Justice,” a “common defense,” and through the “promot[ion] of general Welfare” for ourselves and future generations.1 U.S. CONST. pmbl. Article I of the Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the federal government—the Congress—which has the purpose of enacting laws in service of this preamble.2 U.S. CONST. art. I.

Unfortunately, public health or human well-being is not formally considered in the congressional lawmaking process, much less given primacy. Instead, a potential law’s effect on the federal budget is the only scored consideration in the annual legislative budget process.3 MEGAN S. LYNCH, CONG. RSCH. SERV., 98-721, INTRODUCTION TO THE FEDERAL BUDGET PROCESS 14–15 (2012). Since the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the requirement of a cost estimate in the form of a Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) score for most legislative proposals has oriented the lawmaking process towards economic considerations, first and foremost.4Frequently Asked Questions About CBO Cost Estimates, CONG. BUDGET OFF., https://www.cbo.gov/about/products/ce-faq [https://perma.cc/J6FD-MAEV]. While this is a critical function, as Robert Kennedy stated in 1968, “the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children . . . [it] measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”5Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Remarks at the University of Kansas (Mar. 18, 1968), https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/the-kennedy-family/robert-f-kennedy/robert-f-kennedy-speeches/remarks-at-the-university-of-kansas-march-18-1968 [https://perma.cc/B2FV-9EJ2].

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Fixing the United States Postal Service: How Congress Must Act to Bring Financial Stability to the Agency and Comprehensive Mail Service to the American People

Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. and Gordon E. Holzberg

I. INTRODUCTION

The United States Postal Service (“USPS”) — first established as the United States Post Office with the Post Office Act of 1792 — has long served the American people. As of 2020, the Postal Service employs over 600,000 people,1See Fact #238, U.S. POSTAL SERV., https://facts.usps.com/size-and-scope/#fact238 [https://perma.cc/V2MA-RHME]. operates over 31,000 retail locations,2See Fact #226, U.S. POSTAL SERV., https://facts.usps.com/size-and-scope/#fact226 [https://perma.cc/6AW5-P9EC]. and handles 48% of the world’s daily mail flow.3See Fact #362, U.S. POSTAL SERV., https://facts.usps.com/size-and-scope/#fact226 [https://perma.cc/7XSC-398Y].

With the help of Congress, the Postal Service has evolved over the generations to adapt to the pressures at hand. In the late 1960s, those pressures—which included declining revenue, increasing operating expenses, and employee dissatisfaction4See OFFICES OF THE HISTORIAN AND GOV’T RELATIONS AND PUB. POLICY, U.S. POSTAL SERV., 100 THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE: AN AMERICAN HISTORY 60 (2020), https://about.usps.com/publications/pub100.pdf [https://perma.cc/SW9B-KXTW] [hereinafter USPS HISTORY]. —facilitated the evolution of the U.S. Post Office Department into the U.S. Postal Service, the agency that currently provides mail service in the United States.5See Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, Pub. L. No. 91-375, 84 Stat. 719 In the early 2000s, the pressures centered on declining mail volume.6See CONG. RESEARCH SERV., R40983, THE POSTAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND ENHANCEMENT ACT: OVERVIEW AND ISSUES FOR CONGRESS (2009), https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40983.pdf [https://perma.cc/9B6G-X4JP]. Now, USPS faces yet another crisis, in addition to the declining volume of letters and flat mail7Hearings on The Financial Condition of the Postal Service Before the H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform, 116th Cong. 3 (2019) (statement of Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Postal Service), https://about.usps.com/news/testimony/2019/pr19_pmg0430.pdf [https://perma.cc/SH3F-DJGR].: the massive sums owed by the Postal Service to its retirees.8Id. at 12–13. Fortunately, however, Congress has both the power and the prerogative to identify and enact solutions to these problems.

The first section of this essay will explore the reformation of the Post Office into the Postal Service. The next will examine legislation passed in 2006 that impacted the Postal Service’s current dismal financial status. The final section will lay out a comprehensive vision of the postal reforms needed to ensure the long-term health of this vital institution.

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A Chapter 11 Makeover: Timely Revisions to the Bankruptcy Code to Assist Small Businesses Through Crises

Rarely does Congress act proactively. But with the passage of the Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA)[1] in 2019, the legislature may have—unknowingly at the time—saved many small businesses from the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus. For years, critics have bemoaned the Bankruptcy Code’s (Code) rigid framework for reorganizing financially distressed companies—specifically its one-size-fits-all treatment of the corner store and the Fortune 500 conglomerate.[2] Yet the SBRA attempted to streamline the lengthy and costly reorganization process, creating a fast-track path for small businesses in Chapter 11.

A Chapter 11 Makeover: Timely Revisions to the Bankruptcy Code to Assist Small Businesses Through Crises

Matthew J. Razzano*

I. Introduction

Rarely does Congress act proactively. But with the passage of the Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA)[1] in 2019, the legislature may have—unknowingly at the time—saved many small businesses from the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus. For years, critics have bemoaned the Bankruptcy Code’s (Code) rigid framework for reorganizing financially distressed companies—specifically its one-size-fits-all treatment of the corner store and the Fortune 500 conglomerate.[2] Yet the SBRA attempted to streamline the lengthy and costly reorganization process, creating a fast-track path for small businesses in Chapter 11.[3]

This Essay argues that while Congress may have gotten lucky in amending the Code prior to a flood of pandemic-induced small business bankruptcies, Congress can make additional changes to better accommodate these struggling entrepreneurs. Part II discusses historical issues with the Code’s treatment of small businesses and the stress placed upon these owners during the coronavirus pandemic. Part III introduces the provisions of the SBRA. And Part IV addresses additional changes needed to holistically improve the bankruptcy system for small business owners.

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