House Rejects Senate Bill To Fight Child Marriage, Citing Cost As Main Concern

A bill to combat the practice of child marriage in developing countries stalled in the House on Thursday,” CQ Today reports. In a 241-166 vote “the House rejected … the motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill (S 987). Suspension of the rules is an expedited procedure that limits debate and requires a two-thirds majority for passage,” the news service writes (Dumain, 12/16).

The bill, which the Senate passed by unanimous consent Dec. 1, aims to integrate child marriage prevention approaches throughout U.S. foreign assistance programs and scale up proven approaches and programs to end the practice (Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, 7/16). It “would authorize grants for programs working to combat child marriage” and “direct the White House to develop and implement a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage in areas of the world where it is most prevalent,” CQ Today adds.

According to the news service, House members “said they voted against the legislation not for its core goals, which many say transcend party lines, but for its price tag: the Congressional Budget Office estimated that implementing the bill would cost $67 million over the next five years.”

The article includes House floor statements made by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) on the bill’s cost and reports he “argued that a better alternative would have been for the House to consider a similar child marriage prevention bill (HR 6521) introduced earlier in the week by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee,” which Burton “said, would cost less than $1 million to implement.” CQ cites UNICEF estimates on the numbers of girls living in developing countries who were married before age 18 and includes statements in support of legislation to reduce child marriage made by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), who with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) cosponsored the Senate bill (12/16).

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