Jun 11, 2021
Nancy Pelosi Investing in Caregiving Press Conference Transcript June 11
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on June 11, 2021 to discuss investing in caregiving. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:02)
Thank you very much for your very, very generous introduction and kind words, Richard. Richard [Abara 00:00:13] has been a leader on all the issues he talked about for such a while. Richard took over here though, I worked many years with Sam [Luis 00:00:22] and I wanted to acknowledge his leadership as well.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:25)
Richard is the executive director of Mission Neighborhood Center, every day sees to the needs of the children, of early education head start, and again, we just were together at the Latino community round table. So I see this sign, “For the children”, and the drawing [inaudible 00:00:47] Mission Bay children. I love that because when people have asked me for the past 34 years, what are the most important issues facing the Congress, I always have said the same thing. Our children, our children, our children. Their health, their education, the economic security of their families, including the pension security of their seniors … grandparents, as well as a safe, clean environment in which they can thrive, a world at peace in which they can reach their fulfillment. The Mission Neighborhood Center is dedicated to our children, our children, our children, and their families. I want to also acknowledge a special guest who is with us, Maria [Hondres 00:01:36], a survivor, advocate, and member of Parent Voices, balancing supporting her child Eduardo, while working multiple jobs. Again, Maria has been with us on other Zooms when we’ve had days of action for the children and childcare.Today, we’re talking about a broader issue of care, and this is, today is a care economy week of action. Not day, week of action. And the care includes another guest, Julie [Fisher 00:02:09], and this is about the home care issue on which we have $400 billion in the president’s initiative.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:19)
$400 billion for home care workers. We’re told that that [inaudible 00:02:22]. Is Lester with you? Lester, thank you. Where’s Lester? Thank you for being with us. Yeah, I see Lester. Thank you, Lester, for being with us as we talk about this important issue. $400 billion. So let’s just say where we are. The care economy is the backbone of the US economy. One of the debates that we’re having in this discussion on infrastructure in the Congress is what is the infrastructure? If we [inaudible 00:02:58] idea of infrastructure, infrastructures of the 1950s, we will not be building back … we will build back better when we recognize the human infrastructure part of this, that it involves education and training for more people to qualify for the jobs. If it recognizes that people have to have the freedom to go to work, the big investment in childcare, and the recognition of the talent of the people who will care for our children and care for those who need help, whether it is a disability or being seniors or whatever it is.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:38)
So it is a respect, it’s not really a recognition of the need for people to be able to be free to go to work because their loved ones are cared for, it’s respect for those who are caring for them in terms of their … the training, the support that they have, the ability for them to unionize, which is something that we all have been working on for a while in that regard, and we would hope that California can be a model to the rest of the country in that regard.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:10)
In our rescue plan, the one we just passed that was referenced by [inaudible 00:04:15], we had $45 billion for childcare. That was largely related to COVID. COVID. But we have to go well beyond that. Now, I see that we have some other guests here as I look around. And I see Parent Voices … Parent … is a parent-led, grassroots group fighting for [inaudible 00:04:38]. Now, for years, I’ve been quoting them, for years. “Parents earning …” “Children learning, parents earning.” And that has been so much [inaudible 00:04:49] connection of the success of our children tied to the success of our economy.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:58)
SEIU Local 215 representing California’s long-term care workers is here. Thank you for being here. We want everybody to unionize across the country. And then Sasha [Bittner 00:05:11]. Oh my darling, Sasha. I love her so much. She’s the Chair of the Regional Advisory Committee State Council on Developmental Disabilities and very much a teacher to the rest of us about how public policy affects the well-being of all of us. And of course this home care, $ 400 billion [inaudible 00:05:32] seniors and people with disabilities. And I see Linda [Asato 00:05:37] here, the Executive Director of California Child Resource and Referral Network. Again, about childcare research, education, and policy advocacy. This is about a new … a big day for us because we have a president whose budget is a statement of values of our country.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:57)
That’s what a federal budget is supposed to be, a statement of our country’s values. And his budget is just that. The value that we place on family. The recognition that the people who do the caring need the respect, the pay, the training, and the opportunity to bargain collectively as we go along. And so we’ll get to hear from some of our guests, but I just want to brag a little bit about the rescue plan. It also secured a billion dollars for help headstart helping Mission Neighborhood Center and other pillars of the community to have additional funding for the headstart aspects of their product. Expanded lifeline on the tax, child tax credit, to provide $10 billion to provide access to home and community-based services during the pandemic for seniors and people living with disabilities.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:54)
Now, again, a measure of that was rescue. We go next to recovery and the job plan that is ahead, there’ll be many … much more money because it will cover a longer period of time. Now, we have a once in a century opportunity, fundamentally fix our broken care system. It has lots of love. It has lots of good will. It doesn’t have all of the funding and the recognition that it needs. And it will because of the Democratic Congress Senate. And while we had hoped that this would all be bi-partisan, it is in the country. Across the country, people support this in high numbers. Democrats, Republicans, independents, whatevers. But in the Senate … in the Congress, we didn’t get one vote for the rescue plan that did so many of the things that we have talked about.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:47)
So again, I could go over the numbers again and again, this is not a luxury we’re talking about. This is a necessity. Pre-pandemic childcare in California ranked among the least affordable in the nation. And now rebuilding care … now that’s going to change. Some of what the governor is putting in the budget is money that comes from all of this. So again, it goes on and on, lowers childcare costs. When we talk about $200 billion, this is what it means to you. What it means to you is it ensures that no family pays more than 7% of income on childcare. Invest in childcare and learning, training the workers [inaudible 00:08:32]. Expands access of the head start in places like Mission Bay, that’s happening.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:39)
And then this is another important part of it. Secures universal free preschool for three and four year olds. Now, San Francisco has been in the lead in the nation by having preschool for four years old, universal, four years and up. This will enable it to come down to three year olds. Very, very important. And this is one of the things that we’ve been fighting for for so long. It has national paid family and medical leave with 12 weeks of leave. 12 weeks of leave. Now, San Francisco, again, in the lead, has eight weeks of leave. This will enable it to go to 12. Expands tax credits, including the child tax credit, very important, we’ve fought for dependent care tax credits. And then again, I mentioned the $400 billion to expand access to home and community based services for seniors and people living with disabilities while strengthening the home care workforce. We always talked about this, about what they do, but also … Okay, so it will … South California has sort of taken the lead. We want the rest of the country to establish authorities where these workers can have a place to make their case for-
Nancy Pelosi: (10:03)
… a place to make their case for how we go forward. So in any event, this jobs plan right now, [inaudible 00:10:12], it has two manifestations. One is the jobs fund which will have $25 billion over and above the $50 some billion we already have put in related to COVID to get us through the next period until we come … the next bill will have at least … I mean, the women’s caucus in Congress wants to put an infinite price on childcare. The needs are infinite, but nonetheless, about $100 billion. It will ensure families are not forced to choose between taking care of a loved one or providing for their family in a way that gives them confidence that they can be where they are doing their work, knowing their children or their loved one is well cared for, so it’s about family.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:57)
There is a quote from Warren Buffett said, I think it’s useful. “The closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all of its citizens, the greater its output will be.” So you could make a pragmatic economic argument for all of this. We’re speaking from a value standpoint about responsibilities to one another. And so we consider it, yes, it’s important economically, but consider it a health and moral imperative. So, that’s what you will see in the weeks ahead as we go forward. And you’re going to hear again, this is all important in terms of policy, but what it means personally to people is what our purpose is. All of this is for the people, for the children. And with that, I have great appreciation, Mission Neighborhood Center for the beautiful respect you pay to the people who … the children and families who come here on having such a beautiful, special venue for them. So when they come here, they will feel the love, feel the respect, and thrive, and thrive in that atmosphere.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:14)
With that, I have appreciation and respect for all that is happening here. I’m pleased to yield back to Richard [Abara 00:12:19], with great thanks.
Richard Abara: (12:20)
Was that a terrific report to the nation?
Speaker 1: (12:21)
Richard Abara: (12:21)
I didn’t hear anybody?
Speaker 2: (12:29)
Speaker 3: (12:29)
Go Speaker Pelosi!
Richard Abara: (12:39)
Shall we hear a little bit about how we feel about the speaker today and every day of this week of action and the ensuing year of recovery and action? [inaudible 00:12:52].
Richard Abara: (12:54)
We are part of that army that will follow this woman any place, anytime, day or night. Moving on here, 14 years ago, a lawyer from Nicaragua moved here to continue her education. This parent and single mother who recently earned her paralegal certificate at City College in San Francisco has lived here for the last six years, owns [Antonietta 00:13:18] Legal Services, serving people with translations, bankruptcy, immigration, and more. When the pandemic slowed her business, Maria took on two part-time jobs as an organizer for the Housing Rights Committee and as a promotora for Mission Economic Development Agency, providing informational campaigns to San Francisco’s Latinx community on available resources. I would like to introduce parent, organizer, and promotora, and her son [Eduardo Antonia Corona 00:13:45], Maria [Antonietta Andres 00:13:47].
Speaker 4: (13:47)
Maria Antonietta Andres: (13:47)
He heard his name and he’s running here.
Maria Antonietta Andres: (14:02)
First of all, I want to say, thank you so much for everybody that is here, especially my son. He’s just so thrived with the facilities that he wants to go and play.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:23)
He has some friends over there.
Maria Antonietta Andres: (14:23)
Yes, there is a friend over there.
Maria Antonietta Andres: (14:28)
Good morning. My name is Maria Andres. I am a single mother of five-year old Eduardo. I’m an attorney qualified in Nicaragua, but unfortunately, due to licensing requirements. I am not able to practice law in the United States. To apply my legal training, I recently finished my paralegal certificate, San Francisco City College, while starting my own business that I want to help my community with notaries, translations, bankruptcy, immigration, paperwork. I also work two part-time roles, one as a Southeast organizer for the Housing Rights Committee and another as a promotora for the Mission Economic Development Agency. We provide informational resources to the Latinx community on available resources. I need to work all these tasks in order for me to support my family financially. I am here to represent all the women, all the mothers, all the immigrants that have benefited from the pass of these bills. And thank you for the leadership of Ms. Pelosi. I have benefited myself. During the pandemic, my son and I were very impacted. My childcare center closed, my business has been down, and my mental health was very compromised. I have a childcare subsidy, but still didn’t have a place to put my son, so we needed to shelter at home for five months until I was able to find a place where him and I can go back to work.
Maria Antonietta Andres: (16:26)
My son goes to a family center childcare provider for four days, but he cannot go for full five days. I don’t have a space for him to go to that extra day. So he stays with me and he works with me. I also use the [inaudible 00:16:49] care, which is that friend when I have to work late or weekends and I pay her out of pocket. The stimulus funds were a blessing. They helped me pay my electricity, cable, and phone bills. The $14,000 stimulus has helped us avoid further credit damage and credit card debt. The stimulus fund helped me catch up on finances to avoid financial ruin and more stress in these hard times. I am now very hopeful and excited for the child tax credit assistance because it will be ongoing support. It will remain … It will mean stability for my family and less worry for me to focus on different goals I want to achieve for my future and my son as well. This fall, my son will be starting school and I am so grateful that I will be getting this cash support for school supplies and all our basic needs. So while in the past, I was a victim of domestic violence and I am a survivor now.
Maria Antonietta Andres: (18:13)
Because of the policies, because of this new family plan that we are starting, women like me, mothers like me are thriving. The recent American rescue plan dollars will ensure that I do not have to pay for childcare co-payments. I need that money for basic needs. I don’t have that extra money to be paying for childcare. This also will provide supports childcare providers. They need to be earning [inaudible 00:18:49] wages. My son loves his caregiver, but she’s not getting compensated as she should. This [inaudible 00:19:01] will benefit mothers, will also help us to support mothers that are on the wait list. There’s more than 5000 kids on the wait list, that they cannot have access to childcare.
Maria Antonietta Andres: (19:17)
Early learning is one of the most important learning that the kids need. We also need to continue to fight for policies that empower women to overcome the barriers that prevent us from achieving our goals. Dreams to make our families healthier and stronger. I know what it is to be on that wait list. I was on that wait list when I was on my second trimester, and for me, that is unacceptable. Mothers should not go through that. That was a very stressful situation. Childcare for me doesn’t just mean a place for my son to go.
Maria Antonietta Andres: (20:02)
… doesn’t just mean a place for my son to go while I’m working. It means that he’s in a safe place learning and getting the adequate education that he needs to be successful in life.
Maria Antonietta Andres: (20:16)
Ob behalf of all the women, mothers out there who aren’t here, or even don’t know that the work that Ms. Pelosi has been put it on, I want to say thank you. Thank you. Childcare means much more than just the space. It means the future for my son, for me to continue thriving. And let’s all say, while children learning, parents are earning. Come on, everybody. While children learning, parents are earning. Children learning, parents earning. Thank you so much.
Richard Abara: (21:14)
Thank you, Maria. Our next San Francisco resident has served our labor movement for over three decades. First as a Macy’s retail worker with USDW. When her companion Lester suffered an aneurysm, she became one of our esteemed IHSS home care providers and a proud member of SCIU 2015.
Richard Abara: (21:36)
She continues to fight for work and dignity, living wages, and union benefits, is a grateful negotiator on behalf of fellow California caregivers, and is excited to help ensure President Biden’s jobs plan become reality, providing much needed reform in the care economy.
Richard Abara: (21:54)
I would like to introduce Julianne Julie Fisher. IHSS provider in SCIU 2015 member.
Good morning. I am Julie Fisher. And as you just heard, for more than 30 years, I was in UFCW United food and commercial worker local five worker at Macy’s Union Square.
In 2017, my companion, Lester, this gentleman right over here, suffered a brain aneurysm. Our lives changed in an instant. When Lester woke up in the hospital, the first thing he said, nearly the first thing, is that he was committed to leaving the hospital walking.
Four and a half months later, with the support of doctors and a wonderful rehab team, he did just that. At that point, I had to leave my retail job, becoming a full-time caregiver for Lester. Thankfully, through San Francisco’s, IHSS program, I became part of the warm and sturdy local 2015 family.
Hear it for caregivers.
With SCIU, local to 2015, California’s home care workers have the power to make our voices heard, to win raises, benefits, and funding. Let me say that, funding, for home care programs together.
SCIU 2015 helps home care workers to keep fighting for the respect, protection, and pay that they deserve. Our long-term care system is not working. And healthcare disparities have been made more obvious during COVID with the efforts of SCIU 2015, and the San Francisco living wage coalition, and other local unions, SF IHSS providers now earn $17.50 an hour.
Many of my sisters and brothers across the country earn less than $10 an hour for exactly the same work. And they do not have benefits. They do not have paid sick leave and many do not have the right to join a union.
Home care workers are essential, skilled, and dedicated healthcare workers. Nearly 90% of home care workers are women. More than half are people of color. One third are immigrants. We’ve all seen that the racist and sexist narratives label our jobs as unskilled women’s work. That is not right. And it cannot continue.
Now, with the leadership and support of the Biden Administration and lawmakers like speaker Pelosi, home care workers and our clients are finally being seen and heard. A plan to make a long overdue investment in caregiving is absolutely essential to building back better and creating an economy that works for everyone. The numbers of those who need care keep growing. Our senior population and those living with disabilities like Lester, deserve to live with dignity. Caregivers need to be respected, protected, and paid. It is time to put care first. Thank you.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:00)
Thank you, Maria and Julia, for your eloquent presentations about why these policies need to be vastly improved. From your personal experience, your suggestions, again, are a model to the nation. This is where our ideas spring from.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:20)
It isn’t a, this is what it should be, coming from above. It’s, this is the experience that people are having, this is what we need to address. And just to speak to, I’m going to take a couple of questions, but when Maria talked about not having a place, I just wanted… I looked at my cards because I didn’t say this one thing before, that there is 25 billion dollars in the Biden Plan for infrastructure.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:47)
Because facilities- [crosstalk 00:26:47]
Nancy Pelosi: (26:47)
… and that wasn’t [inaudible 00:26:54], obviously to recognize the need, have the training, have respect for the workforce and good pay, but also invest 25 billion in childcare infrastructure to rebuild facilities and to increase the supply of care.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:12)
And then another point that both Julie and Maria have made is that when we talk about building back better, we’re talking about building back better with women.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:24)
Because many [inaudible 00:27:24] are women. And many of them are women of color in our community. And what Julie talked about, about the pay, the disparity, 10… We’ve been having these hearings over the years about having respect for our caregivers. And one of her… Over and again, this one person would testify with us, and her speech was this, “I would say to the employer, you don’t think I’m worth this much money? Do you think your mother is? End of discussion. End of discussion.”
Nancy Pelosi: (28:11)
So it is that, what we’re doing here today is part of our big week of action for care, our care week of action. We’ve had days of childcare, days on post office, days on every… There are many aspects of it. Today is, this is a week. Yesterday, Jackie Spear had, my colleague who represents San Francisco, she had an event with children. I know the children will be running this place on Monday, respecting their privacy, we are here today.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:47)
But, I also want to say that across the country, there is a drum beat for the care economy because members are having these kinds of events, so that the public will be aware of what is in the bill. Not that we can just take credit for it, it’s important for them to know where it all came from, but more important is that people will know what the opportunities are so they avail themselves of it, whether it’s a child tax credit, or anything else.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:16)
If people don’t know, they may not, again, benefit from it. So it’s all about making it better for everyone. We’re very excited that, really the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was something that was such a breakthrough for us to win the Senate so that we could. Because we passed all these things last year. But now we can go bigger and get it signed by the President of the United States.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:43)
Any questions on this subject? Let’s hear it for the President of the United States.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:58)
Questions on this subject? No? Okay. Any questions?
Off topic? Do you have any further, should we-
Speaker 5: (30:03)
Off topic. Do you have any further… Should any further action be taken against Representative Omar for her comments?
Nancy Pelosi: (30:07)
Speaker 5: (30:07)
Are you concerned about-
Nancy Pelosi: (30:08)
No I don’t.
Speaker 5: (30:09)
… the divide it may cause?
Nancy Pelosi: (30:11)
No. I think that she clarified her remarks and we accepted that. And she has a point that she wants to make and she has a right to make that point. There was some unease about how it was interpreted. She made her clarification. Next question.
Speaker 6: (30:30)
Madame Speaker, we’re set to open California on Tuesday, as far as COVID restrictions.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:35)
Speaker 6: (30:35)
We’d love to get your thoughts as a San Francisco resident and someone who also goes to DC, very different places. What are your thoughts on what’s happening here?
Nancy Pelosi: (30:44)
Well, you’re very smart, astute to recognize the differences. Because decisions as to how you open up relate to the incidents of the infection in different places. And hopefully, excuse me, San Francisco has been a model to the nation. I’m so proud of Mayor Breed. She has done a fabulous, fabulous job. [Crosstalk 00:31:11], [inaudible 00:31:11], Chair of the Health Commission/Board.
Nancy Pelosi: (31:14)
So we have our finger on this pulse of second by second. So again, it’s a big state, a big and glorious and diverse state and different regions may interpret it differently. But I’m very proud of the work that was done here. And it is again, to mask not to mask, vaccine. That’s enlarge issue to this. This president has… One of the things that was a big fight for us before and you don’t want to be a fear monger and say, “If only you knew how bad this is.” But it was bad because what we were trying to say is, and had been indicated. There had been… Our healthcare system has not addressed the needs of everyone in an equitable way. And this became very conspicuous with a pandemic. So we were insisting Barbara Lee and Karen Bass who was chair of the Black Caucus now. [inaudible 00:32:14] insisting that we have specific language in the legislation about testing, tracing, treating so that we could reach all of the communities, all the language and cultural appropriateness. We’ve talked about this Richard, be appropriate so that people could really benefit from this.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:37)
And now with the vaccine, even more so, so that the outreach is culturally and linguistically appropriate. And in our community.We have many nonprofit organizations who do that all the time. So we wanted the funds to flow in a way that recognize that need and opportunity, and actual success with many more people being vaccinated. We haven’t reached everyone. Some people still have reluctance, but there has been a big difference made because of the resources that were put there. And the insistence that the president had, that everybody be vaccinated.
Nancy Pelosi: (33:25)
So that takes us to the place that we are, a place of opening up. Now people just have to make their judgment. If someone isn’t vaccinated, they should still continue to wear a mask. That’s what our house, not it’s the capital’s, House and Senate’s position. That if you aren’t vaccinated, you must wear mask. Some of it depends on the honor system of people just being fair to those around them. So again, people will have to make their personal decision as to how they participate. But it is quite a glorious thing that the state will be opening up more and that children will be able to participate in a better way.Our goal in the rescue package was vaccines in the arms, money in the pockets, children back in school, and workers back on the jobs in a safe way. Once again [inaudible 00:34:22] thank you to your Mission Neighborhood Center. This has been a glorious example to our community, to the world. And I thank you Richard. Did you have a question?
Yes. So Speaker Pelosi, my name’s Maria with Parent Voices and we really admire your courage in Congress and your commitment to the caring economy. We would like to know what we can do to support you.
Nancy Pelosi: (34:52)
Okay. So what would want to do is to have this strong beat across America. Because what we’re doing is crossing a threshold. We are saying home care workers, child care, family and medical leave, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work. All of these things are essential for us to treat people with the respect that their work. And as the FCIU and others, and I’ve worked with the SIU on the point for 15. Of course, we’ve been fighting so long for fight for 15 that we want it to be higher now. But all of this is about respecting the dignity of work. So I want people to be unabashedly out there saying, “This is what we need to do.” Something different. Something different.
Nancy Pelosi: (35:45)
And that’s why Joe Biden’s statement to build back better doesn’t just mean, and it’s a big, important thing for many of us is to build that greener, that’s better. To build that greener. But also to build with with many more people participating in that building back and the economic success and prosperity of our country. Not only for jobs, that’s really important, but for ownership, for businesses. Small businesses, women owned businesses, minority owned business, veterans owned business, all those kinds of things to have some of the contracts that go into that. Because you know why? It will make it better, make it better. So thank you for being part of the Care Economy Week of Action.
Speaker 7: (36:35)