December 9, 1971 – President Nixon Vetoed the Only Publicly Funded Childcare Bill Ever Passed by Congress

The United States Congress passed the Comprehensive Child Development Bill in 1971, with the Senate voting in favor 63 to 17. The Comprehensive Childcare Act (CCA) was intended to meet the growing day-care demand and to provide subsidies for families who could not afford it on their own. The legislation included provisions for medical, nutritional, and educational services for children from infancy to fourteen years of age. But on this day in history, President Richard Nixon vetoed the bill, and Congress failed to override the veto.

Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the U.S.

Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the U.S.

In Nixon’s veto message, written by conservative Pat Buchanan, Nixon said that the bill “would commit the vast moral authority of the National Government to the side of communal approaches to child rearing [a coded reference to Communism] over against the family-centered approach.” He also alleged “There is a respectable school of opinion that this legislation would lead toward altering the family relationship.”

There is some speculation that Nixon, who was up for re-election in 1972, was eager to counter the criticism of the conservative Congressman John Ashbrook of Ohio, who was running against Nixon, and whose slogan was “No Left Turns.”

You can read the full text of Nixon’s veto remarks here.

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