Great story broken by Bloomberg: The Biden administration will “relocate” $860 million in funds meant for COVID-19 relief programs to the Health and Human Services department in order to cover the cost of housing the thousands of child migrants who remain in United States custody.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra defended the switch in a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees Wednesday. Becerra claimed that “his department needed the funds to ensure the safety of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the border,” according to a report in the New York Post. “They also need to cover costs associated with staffing at shelters for these children, Becerra wrote saying that the pandemic has increased the program’s operating costs, requiring that children be quarantined and that emergency intake shelters have proper social-distancing measures in place to keep children and staff safe.
Becerra said the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 grants him the authority to divert the funds, and that HHS will ensure the transfer “does not disrupt or impede planned NIH activities.” The White House Office of Management and Budget was consulted on the transfer, according to the letter.
Meanwhile, Kevin Brady, Republican Leader, Committee on Ways and Means and James Comer, Republican Leader, Commmittee on Oversight and Reform have made their position clean to Becerra.
…this strain on the agency comes at a time when the American foster care system is already struggling. Last month in Texas, for example, 282 children spent consecutive nights with child protective services workers at offices, hotels, or churches, because no foster care provider had an open bed. Over the last 18 months, state-contracted placements in Texas have lost a net of more than 1,000 beds for the traditional foster care system, apparently due to insufficient reimbursement rates. This is just one example of the strain on the foster care system that existed prior to this current border crisis. We are extremely concerned that the influx of unaccompanied children, if not handled appropriately, will have a negative impact on American children in foster care. It is essential that HHS set forth a clear and effective plan to manage the Unaccompanied Alien Children program.