(WASHINGTON, D.C.- February 25, 2013) A little-heralded appropriations bill sailed quietly through the Senate yesterday that will provide $25-million in funding to establish a multi-story child-care center--located adjacent to the Senate chamber itself--that will provide free, daily care for the previously unacknowledged children of Senators and ex-Senators who, until recently, no one knew existed.
"This may not be understood by everyone, but we want to meet the needs of the children, which after all, is paramount to our nation's ideals and values," said John Edwards, former senator from North Carolina, who was one of the first to enroll his child in the center. "We all could have been a bit more forthcoming in these matters, perhaps, but given the challenges of issues like national security, the national debt and financial cliffs, international terrorism, and the like, we just didn't think the American people needed to fret about these personal matters. This will also help working families which deserves a higher priority on the national agenda."
The Center, tentatively known as the Strom Thurmond Memorial Child Care and Life Enrichment Center, will provide 24-hour-a-day care for the children, along with limo transporation to the facility. A special unit of the Secret Service will make sure the names of the children will not be released to the public, and large pieces of black construction paper were already in place on the windows of the facility to block attempts to see who is inside.
Former Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, who is serving as honorary chair of the Center's foundation, did speak briefly with reporters after leaving the building yesterday. "This would have been a nice to have around in my day," he said. "It would have given us a chance to see our kids more since it is so conveniently located. But at least today's Senators, and the Senators of the future, will be able to establish an even better work-life balance than we did. We can all be proud of this."
Children in the Center will receive free services from trained child care specialists, licensed nurses, and dieticians, as well as free health care for life for them, their parents, grandparents, siblings, and close friends.