House leaders apparently have abandoned efforts to extend four select committees--including one focusing on children--that are set to expire this month.
The House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, as well as the select panels on aging, hunger, and narcotics abuse and control, have been in jeopardy since January, when the House voted 237 to 180 to let the narcotics panel expire on March 31 as scheduled. (See Education Week, Feb. 10, 1993.)
Following that vote, House and committee leaders tried to garner support to keep all four panels alive for another year to permit a review by a bipartisan, bicameral panel studying legislative reforms.
But a spokesman for Speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley said last week that member polls indicated there was not enough support to warrant bringing the issue to a vote.
New members eyeing ways to reform the Congress have been most vocal in opposing the panels.
Critics of the committees argued that they were always intended to be temporary and have no legislative power. Supporters maintained that the panels called attention to social issues and offered a perspective that crossed jurisdictional lines.
House leaders said last week that the issues covered by the select panels would be absorbed by standing committees. A spokesman for the panel on children said last week that it is crafting a proposal to "make sure these issues don't fall through the cracks'' and to give them greater prominence when Congress reorganizes its committees.
Citing increased reports of abused and neglected children, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., last week introduced a measure that would spend $2.2 billion over five years to improve the child-welfare system and help avert the need for foster-care placements.
The measure is similar to a proposal included in the 1992 tax bill that was pocket-vetoed by President Bush.
S 596, the "comprehensive family-preservation and child-protection reform act,'' would help fund family-preservation programs that offer support services to help families stay together; substance-abuse treatment for mothers and pregnant women; and improvements in foster-care and adoption services, child-welfare training, and data-collection efforts.
It would also fund alternative programs for teenagers in foster
care, and respite care for foster parents of children with special