DeLauro Floor Remarks on Child Care is Essential Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chair Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in support of H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act. A video of DeLauro’s remarks can be found here:
I rise to speak in support of my bill to save the child care industry: the Child Care Is Essential Act.
Let me recognize my colleagues, who joined me on this bill, especially my dear friend, the chair of the Education and Labor Committee, Chair Bobby Scott.
To make clear our fight and our purpose, let me quote the Washington Post from July 4, the title of the piece: “Lack of child care slowing recovery, working parents swamped at home productivity slump pinned on school, center closures.”
Let me quote from the article: “The child care crunch triggered by the pandemic has rapidly become a crisis for many workers and companies that is hindering the economic recovery, disproportionately harming women and threatening to leave deep scars for years to come.”
The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations subcommittee has been central to our response to this pandemic and has provided much-needed funding to deal with the crisis—providing $3.5 billion for child care in the CARES Act and $7 billion in the House-passed Heroes Act.
But, to be frank, the $7 billion in the Heroes Act is not enough to save the child care sector. It could take at least $9.6 billion per month to keep current child care providers in business. This is a crisis. More than half of child care programs could close if we do not act quickly.
The biggest worries of the providers in my state of Connecticut are the loss of revenue and how to pay non-payroll business expenses. They’re concerned that families will not return after the public health emergency.
Affordable child care was a significant and severe issue before the pandemic, and will be after this pandemic is over, so this is not about going back to normal. We cannot afford to do that either.
If we cannot make families feel safe that their kids are going to be in a safe and secure environment, we are not going to get our economy back on track. Parents are not going to send their children to unsafe places, or they have no place to send them. So, the Child Care is Essential Act creates a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund within the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. The bill provides grant funding to child care providers to stabilize the sector and support providers so they can be safely reopening and running. This legislation helps child care providers and working families by:
- Ensuring that the grants adequately support providers’ operating expenses and funding gets to them quickly;
- Requiring that providers continue to pay their staff;
- Providing tuition and copayment relief for working families;
- Promoting health and safety through compliance with public health guidance;
- Prioritizing providers that serve underserved populations;
- Ensuring grants are awarded equitably across child care settings;
- And, conducting oversight through robust reporting requirements.
We bailed out the airlines. Almost $60 billion, and we thought that was necessary to do for our economy. Corporations have received $522 billion for PPP loans, and we knew that was important. Hedge fund managers and real estate developers got a $135 billion tax break completely unrelated to the pandemic. We did not need that. We need to save the child care industry. It is a matter of values, of right and wrong. And it is a matter of the values of who we believe needs to be protected. Our children, our families, or special interests?
It is a matter of economic security for women and families, and lack of child care has been cited as a reason why women are still highly reflected in the unemployment rolls. Small businesses are concerned. One-half of all essential workers in this country are women. Who are the essential workers? Grocery store workers, public transport, cleaning, and sanitation, health care, retail workers. They have to go to work, where do they put their kids?
And, it is a matter of addressing the racial disparities, which this virus has further exposed. Particularly when providers in communities of color continue to struggle to access small-business loans, like those through the PPP because of systemic discrimination in banking practices, the wealth gap, and higher debt, we must help now.
To my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I say: let us move boldly in this historic moment for women, for families, for children, for these small businesses, for communities of color. Let us stabilize the child care sector. Child care is essential. There is no reopening of our economy without it. So, let us provide $50 billion today. Thank you.