While on the campaign trail, President Barack Obama pledged to sign the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act. Among other provisions, the legislation would repeal fees for child support collection, direct the Secretary of Labor to award grants for transitional jobs programs and for public-private career pathways partnerships, and provide an additional tax credit for certain workers required to make child support payments.
We last checked how President Obama was doing with this pledge in Oct. 6, 2009. At the time, we rated the promise In the Works, since identical versions of the bill had been introduced in both chambers of Congress. We wanted to see how things have moved along since then.
As it turns out, neither version of the bill has made much progress. The Senate version has been stuck in the Committee on Finance since October 19, 2009. In the House, the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry on June 18, 2010, where it has been sitting ever since.
With about a month-and-a-half left for Congress to tackle issues including the expiring Bush tax cuts, funding the federal government, and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, it seems unlikely that this particular bill will make it onto President Obama's desk before January 3rd, 2010, when the current session of Congress ends. At that point, all bills that have not been passed have to be reintroduced. We checked to see if Obama had been actively advocating the bill's passage and found no evidence that he has.
We should note that the administration has made at least some progress in promoting "responsible fatherhood." On June 21, 2010, for example, the White House announced the launch of the Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. In addition to continuing to host community forums on fatherhood and personal responsibility around the country, organizations affiliated with the initiative will be sending out e-newsletters "featuring articles, tips and resources from prominent leaders in the fatherhood and family fields and information about model programs."
Still, this promise is about signing specific legislation. Our research shows that the bills are stuck in committee, with little hope of coming out before the 111th Congress ends. We'll keep watching to see what happens, but for now, we rate this Stalled.