Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of Child Care Legislation
Jul 29, 2020
Contact: Speaker’s Press Office,
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 7027, the Child Care Is Essential Act, and H.R. 7327, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, to provide child care relief for families and providers and support the safe reopening of the U.S. economy. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I rise in strong support for this legislation.
I salute Congresswoman DeLauro for her leadership. Over the years, constant, persistent, dissatisfied, and relentless in terms of looking out for our children.
And I thank the distinguished gentleman from Virginia, the Chair of the Education and Labor Committee, for his leadership throughout all of this. I think he knows this issue chapter and verse over the years, and so, I’m so happy we're coming to the Floor for this.
It is – in our community, there's such a need for child care. There's just – it's endless. We don't even come close. We've been thinking incrementally. We have to be thinking transformatively. And even little children know – in our community, we have t-shirts, ‘children learning, parents earning.’ The direct connection between quality child care, where children are given a good start, on where they go.
So, I rise during this devastating time for America, as the health and economic crisis of COVID-19 has hurled us further out of control. Ten weeks ago, we delivered – the Democrats delivered solutions by defeating the virus and faithfully opening the economy with The Heroes Act. It was actually ten weeks ago today. Supporting our heroes, crushing the virus and putting money in America’s pocket. Yet, for ten weeks, we haven’t had the action that we need on that. So, here we are.
For all the statements that were made over time about need for child care, this virus has really shone a bright spotlight on why it is so important. Parents know, children know, we all know, but this virus has been an instructor because if parents can – are forced to go to work as essential workers, who's going to take care of the children if their schools cannot open actually and some are virtual?
So, again, when I ran for Congress over 30 years ago, people said to me, ‘Who is taking care of your children?’ My children were big. Four of them were already in college and one a senior in high school. But that was the question. Who was taking care of the children? And that's a question for our nation. Who is taking care of the children?
And so, in order to – for us to succeed with this, we have to meet the needs of the children, their families and child care workers. Our child care workers are the workforce behind the workforce. Tasking – risking their health and safety on the front lines to ensure parents can go to work, but they face a devastating situation.
The child care system needs at least, at least, $50 billion in the next six months in order to survive. And the – one in five children – child care programs believe they can stay open for more than a year without federal support. So, this is essential.
As estimated – an estimated 326,000 workers, nearly one-third the sector nationwide, have lost their jobs since February. 326,000 since February. Half of the providers have closed, and those that are open to serve children of essential workers are risking their health, too often without PPE. Half of providers – and parents are paying the price. We can't get people back to work until we have widespread access to safe, quality and affordable child care.
Here's the situation in the child care workers' own words. Teri from Wisconsin said, ‘I have gone from 81 kids a day to two. I can't stay open with two. We are considered essential but how can I stay open without the help needed? I love my kids, staff and families but to ask me to go under because of a sudden’ – all of a sudden, I’m essentially – ‘I’m essential. Really?’
We say people are essential, we have to treat them as if they are essential. Traci from Pennsylvania said, ‘We are a nonprofit center mainly funded by families who pay out of pocket. We need a way to maintain payroll of staff so that they can be ready to return when we are allowed to reopen. We need help paying our rent and health insurance costs. We will need help understanding how to stay open safely and how to adjust to new regulations, how to afford related training and what to do if our families can't afford to return.’
And Mary in New York said, ‘Since COVID, my child care center has gone from 89 percent to about ten percent. Fifteen employees will lose their job. We're the only center in a one-mile radius in a very low income area. We are the only voice for our parents and children. Please help us be heard.’
And so, action is needed now, which is why I’m proud to support two bills that will be a lifeline for child care workers and for the economy while keeping our children safe and helping them – helping parents go back to work. H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act, creating a $50 billion child care stabilization fund to provide funding to child care providers over the next six months and helping them safely reopen and operate during and after the COVID-19 crisis, and H.R. 7327, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, expanding access to quality child care to help workers safely return to their jobs and stimulate the economy with federal investments and tax subsidies.
Thank you to Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a measure – maestro she is of the legislative process who has advanced immeasurable progress for generations of Americans. Thank you to Richard Neal for his leadership on the tax credit and federal investments part. I salute Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Madam Chair, again, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and the godmother of much of the work for families and children that we do in this Congress. I also thank Chairman Bobby Scott and Senator Patty Murray, Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education and Pensions Committee for their leadership on these bills. Thank you, Mr. Scott, for, every day, reminding us and leading us on how we can help our children.
I thank and recognize the outside organizers who have been relentless, persistent and dissatisfied, as is Rosa, as they have fought for the strong investments in the child care sector that our children and workforce need.
When people ask me what are the three most important issues facing the Congress, I always say the same thing and have for over 30 years. The three most important issues facing the Congress are our children, our children, our children, their health, their education, the economic security of their families, a safe environment in which they can thrive, a world at peace in which they can reach their fulfillment.
My motivations for even coming to Congress is the one in five children in America who live in poverty. But it isn't only families in poverty who are affected by this child care issue. It's our entire society, our entire economy. That's why we have to think transformatively about this.
Because as we observe the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote, as we observe the fact that we have other 100 women in Congress, many of them moms of small children, we do have to recognize that for our economy to thrive, we have to have full participation and leadership of women. Because we do believe when women succeed, America succeeds. For that to happen – and dads have this responsibility too, so we want them to succeed as well.
But for all of that to happen, we have to make sure that we know who is taking care of the children. And the role that we play to facilitate all of that, to make sure it is of the highest quality and safety for the children is served by the legislation that we are considering. For the sake of the children, their health, their safety and for our children's future as we recover from COVID, but learn from it, I urge our colleagues to support this important legislation and yield back the balance of my time.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman.
# # #