Bills would provide new child care benefits

Federal employees would be able to use pre-tax dollars to pay for child care expenses under legislation recently introduced in the House. On Jan. 30, Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, R-N.Y., introduced a bill to create a new Federal Employee Dependent Care Assistance Program (H.R. 252). The bill would give employees the opportunity to set aside a portion of their pre-tax income to pay for child care. "This program is widely used in the private sector, and it is high time that federal employees be able to use this program as well," said Gilman. A similar plan allowing federal employees to pay health insurance premiums under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan with pre-tax dollars went into effect last October. Gilman also introduced the Federal Employees Child Care Act (H.R. 251), which would require federal child care centers to abide by basic state and local health, fire and safety codes. More than five years ago, the Clinton administration pushed agencies to establish programs to make it easier for workers to balance their home and work lives. In September 1999, Congress approved legislation allowing agencies to use appropriated funds to help lower-income employees cover the costs of child care in licensed centers. Agencies offering child-care subsidies include the Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs, the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management. The Defense Department has had authority to subsidize child care expenses since 1989.
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