Comprehensive Child Development Bill of 1972

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The United States Congress passed the Comprehensive Child Development Bill in 1971 as part of the Economic Opportunity Amendments of 1971. It passed the Senate on Dec 2 with vote 63 to 17,[1][2] and the House on Dec 7 with a vote of 211 to 187.[3]

If this bill had become law it would have provided a multibillion-dollar [4] national day care system designed partially to make it easier for single parents to work and care for children simultaneously, thereby alleviating strain on the welfare system.[5] President Richard Nixon vetoed the bill on Dec 10, 1971.[6]

Nixon's veto and his accompanying rationale reveal several staple thought processes of Cold War politics in the United States.[7] He said that the bill would implement a "communal approach to child-rearing," tying it to broad-based fears of Communism. He also said it had "family-weakening implications." [6][4] The idea that America was distinguished by strong traditional families was often used (by Nixon and other American leaders) to contrast it with the USSR and to resist feminist demands for greater equality for women. Nixon's famous "kitchen debates" with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev included prominent examples of this concept.[8]

The veto was upheld when it retained only 51 votes in favor and 36 opposed.[9][10]

The bill incited some political backlash from anti-welfare and anti-feminist activists who opposed the idea of women in the workforce and who were leery of allowing children to be partially raised outside of the home.[4]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "The State of the 4-Year-Olds", NYTimes Op-Ed, Gail Collins.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Rosenberg, Rosalind. Divided Lives: American Women in the Twentieth Century. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992.
  5. ^ Roth, William. The Politics of Daycare: The Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971. Discussion Papers 369-76. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Washington, DC., 1976.
  6. ^ a b Nixon, Richard Veto Message-Economic Opportunity Amendments of 1971
  7. ^ Onion, Rebecca, Your Child Care Conundrum Is an Anti-Communist Plot, Slate, June 14, 2017
  8. ^ Michel, Sonya and Robyn Muncy. Engendering America: A Documentary History, 1865 to the Present. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1999.
  9. ^ United States Senate: Vetoes by Richard Nixon
  10. ^