3/23/2005

CDF ranks legislators' protection of children

From CommonDreams:
The Children's Defense Fund Action Council today released its annual nonpartisan rankings of Representatives and Senators based on their votes in Congress in 2004 on legislation affecting the lives of children. Individual members and state delegations in Congress were evaluated. The Action Council ranked Hawaii's congressional delegation No. 1, with a 94 percent rating, while Wyoming was worst with a score of 5 percent. "This is a dangerous time for children in America and we need to know which of our leaders are voting to protect children and which are voting to leave children behind," said CDF Action Council President Marian Wright Edelman. "We should not be persuaded merely by compassionate words -- we need to look at actions and votes, far too many of which are profoundly unjust to children, who are the poorest age group of Americans." In the United States, 13 million children live in poverty, and 9 million children lack health insurance. More than 6 million children are left home alone after school each day. Almost 900,000 children each year are victims of abuse or neglect. Nearly one American child or teen is killed by gunfire every three hours. The 2004 Children's Defense Fund Action Council Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard shows that eight Senators received 100 percent ratings: Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jon Corzine (D- N.J.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). Sixteen Senators rarely, if ever, voted in the best interests of children, scoring only 8 percent: Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), George Allen (R-Va.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Zell Miller (D-Ga.), Don Nickles (R-Okla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Sununu (R-N.H.), and Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.). In the House of Representatives, 43 members had 100 percent ratings but 113 scored less than 10 percent. The ratings were based on how members voted on 12 key measures and whether they co-sponsored the Act to Leave No Child Behind, the comprehensive bipartisan legislation reflecting CDF Action Council's mission. The state congressional delegations with the best 2004 voting records for children were: 1. Hawaii (94 percent) 2. Massachusetts and Rhode Island (tied at 88 percent) 4. Vermont (87 percent) 5. North Dakota (79 percent) 6. Maryland (74 percent) 7. Maine (73 percent) 8. Delaware (72 percent) 9. New York (70 percent) 10. Oregon (69 percent). The state delegations with the worst voting records for children were: 50. Wyoming (5 percent) 49. Idaho (10 percent) 48. Oklahoma (13 percent) 47. Utah (17 percent) 46. New Hampshire (19 percent) 45. Colorado (21 percent) 44. Alaska (23 percent) 43. Kansas (24 percent) 42. Georgia (27 percent) 41. Alabama (28 percent). "At a time when the gap between rich and poor is at its highest point in recorded history, when child poverty rates have increased for three consecutive years, when the infant mortality rate has risen for the first time in 44 years, when the number of uninsured Americans is increasing and the federal deficit is soaring, members of Congress need to make more just and sensible choices that protect, not hurt, children," Edelman said. "Congress has the power and duty to ensure every child in America a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start and a Safe Start in life right now."

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