BY SUE BADEAU
The Congressional Fatherhood Task Force may be responsible for one of the few youth-related pieces of legislation to survive the entire legislative process last year. Founded by former Rep. Jim Rogan (R-Calif.), the Fatherhood Caucus demonstrates how a caucus can become a “bully pulpit” for a member who wants to highlight his issues, and can vault these issues into national policy discussions.
The fatherhood caucus was formed only three years ago, and already “fatherhood” issues are being interjected into a range of policy discussions such as welfare reform, child support enforcement, employment and the economy. Last year caucus members were instrumental in drafting portions of The Child Support Distribution Act of 2000, including the “Fathers Count” initiative. This bill passed the House over the summer, remained high on President Clinton’s priority list throughout the fall, and funding for portions of these “Fatherhood” initiatives were included in appropriations legislation that passed during the closing days of the 106th Congress. Without the attention drawn to this issue by the aggressive efforts of the Fatherhood Caucus, it is unlikely that this initiative would have received such prominent attention by the Congress, the White House and the news media. Although Rogan lost his seat in November, “Fathers Count” (perhaps minus the expensive child support provisions) will certainly be back in the new Congress.