Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee conducted a mark-up of the Defense Appropriations Bill for fiscal year (FY) 2019. Congressman Scott Taylor (VA-2), a former Iraq combat veteran who sits on the committee, was able to include an amendment into the bill that would expand access to child care for military families.

The general legislation funds the Department of Defense (DoD) for its military readiness, operations, materiel modernization, and health and quality-of-life programs for troops and military families. The DoD has been allotted a total of $674.6 billion for FY 2019, which includes $606.5 billion in base discretionary funding – an increase of $17.1 billion above the FY 2018 enacted level.

“After meeting with leadership from NASA-Wallops, Navy-Wallops, and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), it is very clear that lack of access to child care in rural areas is affecting our efforts to recruit and retain talented employees,” Taylor said. “Our service members are more than just warriors, they are mothers and fathers working to raise the next generation of Americans.”

Taylor has called on the DoD to improve and expand child care programs to reduce stress on military families and help with troop retention and readiness. He forwarded the Child Care Amendment to be included in the FY 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill, which would mean reduced stress on service members who raise families while on active duty, or in reserves.

The language in the amendment encourages Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to evaluate all options to expand child care opportunities by utilizing excess infrastructure as child development centers located in rural locations. According to Taylor, this will have big return in his Virginia Beach-based district.

The congressman explained, “service members and federal employees in rural locations across Virginia’s Second District and the Eastern Shore, where access to child care programs is even more limited,” causes a problem for families who have a member in the military.

“Passing this amendment is good for businesses, our military personnel, and the communities where they reside,” he said.

In the near future, the DoD will also look to explore partnerships with other federal agencies to coordinate joint accessibility to these development centers.

“If our military installations do not support child care programs, then the health and well-being of our troops and our readiness capabilities are placed in jeopardy,” the former Navy SEAL said.

According to a press release, the full text of Congressman Taylor’s amendment is:

“The Committee supports continued efforts by the Department to improve and expand military child care programs. Providing this benefit helps to ease the stress placed on military families which positively impacts the readiness of our service members. The Committee encourages the Secretary of Defense to evaluate all options which may further expand child care opportunities, including the utilization of excess infrastructure as child development centers (CDC) at installations located in rural locations. The Committee also encourages the Secretary of Defense to explore partnerships with other federal agencies to coordinate joint accessibility to CDCs.”

“I am grateful for the bipartisan support from my colleagues who worked to include my amendment in the FY19 Defense Appropriations Bill,” said Congressman Taylor.