Jul 29, 2020
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript July 29: Child Care Economic Relief
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on July 29. Pelosi and other lawmakers discussed the child care economic relief bill. Read the full speech transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
I do I have the title correct, Tess?
Democratic Women Caucus.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:07)
Nancy Pelosi: (00:07)
Caucus. Okay. And then the other thing.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:08)
Issues. Okay. Democrat Women’s-
Democrat Women’s Issues.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:14)
Very important institution and the Congress. Very important. The source of more new ideas, more entrepreneurial thinking about what we need to do for our families, Chairwoman Brenda Lawrence. We were going to be joined by Katherine Clark, who can’t be with us now, but she has made this an important issue as vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, as a member of the Appropriations Committee. And I commend Richie Neal for his leadership on this. He has been just all out and helping our children. Now, why is this important? This is central to our society, having the full benefit of everyone in our society. Of course it unleashes the power of women in our economy, our society and the rest. But it’s about dads too. It’s about men too. Families benefit from this in a very important way.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:14)
I remember years ago when I ran for Congress, over 30, they said to me, “Who’s taking care of your children?” My children, four of them were already in college. One was going to be a senior in high school. I said, “Well, they’re taking care of me.” But that was a different story. Linda Sánchez has a little boy, Joaquin, who’s adorable. And the thing is, is that if you ask any mom or any dad what is the deterrent to they’re doing their best in the workforce, wherever it may be. The academic world, in the military, in public service in any way, it’s about the confidence they have that their children are well cared for. So I’m not going to go into the details because our distinguished guest will do that. Only to salute them for the vision they had, the knowledge they brought to it, the priorities they have established and the solution this is to, again, having the fullest participation of women. Just I may say for women, because we do believe that when women succeed, America succeeds.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:27)
With that, I’m pleased to introduce the distinguished chair of the Appropriations Committee, Madam Maestro, who orchestrates so many good things for us, Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (02:46)
Thank you very much, Speaker Pelosi. I must say, it’s been a long time we’ve been fighting together. Rosa DeLauro And I often talk about the time Speaker Pelosi, Rosa DeLauro and I were on that committee where we had the money to really fight hard to make sure our children were taking care of. And it’s been a while. And now our great, great leader is the speaker of the House. And I want to thank you so much for your steadfast work leading negotiations to ensure that democratic priorities like quality childcare are addressed in coronavirus response legislation.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (03:34)
We’ve known for years that quality childcare makes all the difference. But even before the pandemic, hard working families struggled to find and afford quality childcare, threatening our economic success and putting our children at a disadvantage. The next emergency package must respond to both the preexisting need for quality childcare and the new challenges presented to all of us by COVID-19.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (04:10)
The pandemic has led to nearly half of childcare providers, many of them women and minority owned small businesses operating on razor thin margins, to close their doors. Reopening their doors while protecting against the transmission of the virus is a matter of urgent necessity. I am so proud to lead the Childcare for Economic Recovery Act within our exceptional Labor, HHS Education Subcommittee, and our extraordinary chairwoman, Rosa DeLauro, who was part of our trio way, way back. 32 years ago. We’ve been there a long … We started when we were babies, I think.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (05:02)
Now I know our leader, Congresswoman Clark, could not be here today, but I am delighted that Chairman Neal, Chairman Davis, Congresswoman Sanchez is here. Our bill would increase mandatory funds for the childcare entitlement to states for the first time in more … Did I mention Bobby Scott? He is a great leader. Little mistake in the prep, but that’s okay. Bobby Scott.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (05:35)
Our bill would increase mandatory funds for the childcare entitlement to states for the first time in more than a decade, investing $10 billion in long overdue funding for childcare infrastructure, and provide 850 million to reimburse the childcare costs of essential workers who’ve cared for us during the pandemic. The Childcare for Economic Recovery Act also makes significant improvements to the tax code that would help hardworking families afford childcare, and childcare providers keep the doors open. There isn’t a single industry or corner of America that doesn’t count on childcare, which supports our workforce today and nurtures the next generation of leaders. We know, and most of America knows, that what’s good for our babies is good for our budget. And together with the Childcare Is Essential Act, led by Chairwoman DeLauro, Chairman Bobby Scott, we can do what’s good for the babies. With that I am delighted to yield to Congresswoman Sanchez, a co-sponsor of my bill.
Linda Sánchez: (06:57)
Thank you so much. Good afternoon. A little bit different these days. And thank you to my colleagues for standing up on such an important issue that we have been talking about for many, many years. I’m one of the few members who, after leaving the House floor for votes for the evening, think about what am I going to make for dinner for my son. And like many other working mothers in this country, I’m juggling a full time job along with distance learning at home. And if you ask any of us, we will tell you that it’s not easy although we have an incredible ability to multitask. For many families, access to quality, affordable childcare was out of reach before the pandemic even started. It was an emergency before the pandemic started. But with COVID-19 it has only magnified the status of this emergency of childcare. It’s gone from a situation that was bad to truly a situation that is terrible.
Linda Sánchez: (08:03)
… situation that was bad to truly a situation that is terrible. Millions of Americans, from nurses to grocery store workers, have been told that they are essential. They need to show up to work every day. But they don’t have anyone to look after their children. Many parents have to get back to work to keep the lights on and put food on the table for their families. And, with schools closed, they must spend a large chunk of their paycheck on child care costs. The ways and means led legislation passed today makes a bold investment in child care, something that is critical for our economic success in this crisis.
Linda Sánchez: (08:42)
I’m proud that the package includes a bill that I coauthored with representative Danny Davis. It helps states provide essential workers with critical support for child care. It also provides longterm assistance for working families to afford child care. Because, even when you can find it and you don’t have to wait on a waiting list for months or even years, it’s very expensive. The average cost of child care in this country is more than what it costs to send a child to college for one year.
Linda Sánchez: (09:15)
Finally, this bill invests in facilities and helps them to adapt to serve children and families safely. So, if we want to reopen child care centers, we need to make sure that there are safety measures in place, things like plexiglass, and hand washing stations, and enough room to social distance. This pandemic that we’re living in is nowhere near under control. And, for many people to return to work, and that’s workers that work paycheck to paycheck, it’s even business owners, they will not return to work until they know that they have a safe and affordable place to send their child for care. But we have to guarantee safe and affordable child care. And we must do it before our economy reopens. Without that assurance, you are not going to see parents sending their children to school or to child care. And, with that, again, I stand with giants here to talk about this issue, but I’m pleased to introduce former judiciary committee seat mate of mine, now the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, Representative Scott.
Bobby Scott: (10:40)
Thank you. Thank you, Congresswoman Sanchez and my distinguished colleagues, especially the distinguished speaker of the house, for your leadership in addressing this key priority for our families, communities, and our economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed our child care sector on the brink of collapse. child care providers, which already faced severe challenges before the pandemic, now face declines in enrollment and rising operating costs. At least half the child care providers in this country closed temporarily at some point during this pandemic. And roughly a quarter of all child care workers have lost their jobs since March.
Bobby Scott: (11:21)
Unless Congress takes action, researchers estimate that we could permanently lose as many as four and a half million child care slots. This will have a profound and lasting effect on the educational progress of our nation’s children, the financial security of working families, and the strength of our economic recovery. In response, Congress enacted the 3.5 billion dollars in immediate relief for child care providers in the Cares Act. Mid May, we passed another bill, the Heroes Act, with seven billion dollars in relief for the child care industry. Unfortunately, instead of joining Democrats to deliver this urgent support that our child care providers need, Senate Democrats have waited more than two months to address this crisis and still don’t have a credible response that can pass the Senate. So, now researchers estimate that it may take almost ten billion dollars a month for the child care industry to survive. The Child Care is Essential Act is an investment in child care stabilization that will put child care providers on a more sustainable path, unlike the Senate Republican child care stabilization proposal, which does nothing to reduce the cost burden for families.
Bobby Scott: (12:38)
Our legislation would require child care providers to help families by providing relief from copayment and tuition, as a condition of receiving stabilization funds. The Child Care is Essential Act, along with the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, will offer resources for the child care sector to support children, families, and our economy, both in the short term and the longterm. And the quicker we can pass these bills, the quicker the child care providers can get help and the families can get the child care that they desperately need.
Bobby Scott: (13:15)
It is now my pleasure to turn it over to my friend and colleague, a longtime leader in addressing the needs of families, the gentle lady from Connecticut, Rosa DeLauro.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (13:32)
Thank you, Bobby. Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s exciting to be here this morning. We are going to pass these two bills, which are complimentary of one another, today, the Child Care is Essential Act, the Recovery Act, with its package of tax credits. And mentioned Katherine Clark in this context, because her portion of the bill has to do with construction of child care centers. But so, I’m honored to join my colleagues today.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (14:04)
And I want to just say to Bobby Scott is a dear friend and a gracious collaborator. So, he is wonderful. And I just say to the speaker, and you all know, from the very moment that a Speaker Pelosi took that gavel and when she invited all the children in the chamber to come and be with her, historic moment in that where she placed her values and her direction of speaker of this house. And she has continued on that pathway ever since that effort. So, this is not something that just dawned on the speaker that needs needs help.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (14:47)
You have the Labor HHS subcommittee. We have been grappling with the need to respond to the child care crisis. And we’ve done this over the last several years by appropriating money for child care that, quite frankly, has been the largest amounts in history of what we’re doing. The Cares Act, as Chairman Scott pointed out, is three and a half billion. The Heroes Bill is seven billion dollars. And now, what we know, given what is going on in the economy today, that National Women’s Law Center has said it’s about 9.6 billion dollars a month that’s needed in order to keep child care providers in business.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (15:27)
So, it’s a crisis. It is a crisis. And I will just quote the Washington Post, if I might, for a second. This is the headline. “Lack of child care slowing recovery, working parents swamped at home, productivity slumped, pinned on school and center closures.” And their quote is, “The child care crunch triggered by the pandemic has rapidly become a crisis for many workers and companies. It is hindering our economic recovery. It disproportionately harms women.”
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (16:03)
It disproportionately harms women and is threatening to leave deep scars for years to come. And then if you take a look at before that, that was in July, in April it was the New York Times that said how millions of women became the most essential workers in America. And they lay it out chapter and verse. But you know what, they also say that the work that they do has often been underpaid and undervalued. And it is an unseen labor force that keeps the country running and takes care of those most in need, whether or not there is a pandemic.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (16:48)
Well, if we believe that they are essential workers then we ought to be providing them with the tools that they need in order to do their job. As been said, child care was a problem, and the cost of it before, and finding it was a problem before the pandemic. So, when you think about, and I think about women in this context and we all do, what has the child care meant? It’s allowed women to participate in a workforce. And women are the majority of workers in this country, in the labor force. So why do we want to underpay them, undervalue them, take away their oppurtunity for themselves and their families to be able to succeed? Because that’s what they need, is child care, to succeed.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (17:35)
And look, parents all around here. All around. What’s your first obligation as a parent? It’s your kid. Take care of your children. And that’s what we’re saying here today with this legislation, with both of these pieces of legislation. Let us take care of our children and our families in this country. And I will tell you, we are not going to reopen this economy if there isn’t a substantial child care investment that we have. The bills are out there with all their provisions in terms of keeping it solid, I just want to make one other point which I made on the floor today.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (18:29)
We needed to deal with the airline industry, so we said, “Okay, 60 billion dollars.” Because it’s about the economy. We did two or three traunches of relief for our businesses. Big, small, we came back, we said the small businesses were getting hurt. And by the way, small business being hurt are some of these child care providers who did not have access to the loans. But, we have doled out 522 billion dollars to do that. And there’s one piece that we didn’t find necessary but it’s been taken out in our legislation, madame speakers you know very well about it. It’s that 135 billion dollars that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle provided to 43,000 taxpayers, 1.6 million dollars each in a tax rebate that goes back to 2018 and 2019 when no one knew how to even spell coronavirus. We didn’t need that.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (19:34)
So but what we do need, is to save the child care industry. Because it is about our values. It is about who we are. And are we going to make sure that we put children and families ahead of special interests? That’s what we are about today. That’s what this legislation represents. And we’re going to get. We’re going to get it there today and we’re going to make every oppurtunity to make sure that the Senate gets it across the finish line as well. This is not a partisan issue. This is a challenge for all of us in this country. And with that, let me just acknowledge Brenda Lawrence, Congresswoman Lawrence, who is a dynamo, and she heads up that not an easy job, the Democratic Women’s Caucus, to be in charge of. But she does it, and she does it with great aplomb, Brenda.
Brenda Lawrence: (20:26)
Thank you so much. It’s a hard act to follow, Rosa DeLauro. I am so honored to be here today, a member of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. And I stand here today to represent an amazing, the highest number of women we ever had in Congress. And to have the oppurtunity to have the Speaker of the House, a woman, who introduced herself as the Speaker with children around her. But, has shaped an agenda that we embrace as democrats, and is for the people. If you are for the people it does include women, because when women succeed, America succeeds. And so, I’m here today to say these bills invest specifically in child care and child care workers while supporting our communities.
Brenda Lawrence: (21:16)
Black and Latino mothers are disproportionately the family bread winners in America. More likely to hold low paying jobs, more likely to be considered essential workers, and unfortunately, more likely to live in child care deserts. For far too long, black women and women of color across this country are often overlooked. When it comes to both their contributions to our community, and receiving adequate assistance necessary to remain healthy and safe. I am so, so excited about the oppurtunity to reach those who we look at often with pity or saying, “Oh, it’s too bad for them.” Some of these women are working two jobs, one just to pay for childcare, to do her ultimate responsibility, and that is to take care of her child.
Brenda Lawrence: (22:14)
Black women and women of color across this country are often overlooked when it comes to their contributions. All of a sudden, these women became heroes, or sheroes when we peeled back the scab of the coronavirus, they were the ones who were there taking care of us and our communities and serving us. I want you to know that we have been given a devastating blow to our child care sector during this pandemic. And temporary and permanent closures of these facilities, nearly half are minority owned causing a shortage in quality, affordable health care for working families.
Brenda Lawrence: (23:02)
As we today bring forth this bill with the amazing leadership that you see around us, this is just one of the many steps. When we talk about for the people, when we recognize that to bring our country out of poverty and to recover, we must be able to take care of our children, the next generation. I love to quote a hero of mine, Elijah Cummings, he said that, “We send a message to a generation that we will never see by what we do today.” And so I want everyone here to know that we’re doing the right thing and I do raise my hand in support of all those women who take care of our children. Thank you. Now I bring my amazing Speaker back up.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:55)
Thank you very much Madam Chair. Thank you all very much for your presentation. The depth of knowledge about this issue, the specificity of the lege-
Nancy Pelosi: (24:03)
Knowledge about this issue, the specificity of the legislation, the difference it will make. Any questions on the subject?
Speaker 1: (24:12)
Yes, on this topic, Leader McConnell has said his red line is liability insurance.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:17)
I’ll answer your question, but first, are there any questions about this very serious matter about who’s taking care of the children?
Speaker 1: (24:25)
I can tie that in.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:29)
Oh, okay. Let’s see how you’re tying it in.
Speaker 1: (24:31)
Is one of your red lines having childcare in-
Nancy Pelosi: (24:39)
We’re not talking about red lines. We’re talking about meeting the needs of the American people. We think it should be self evident for anybody who cares about America’s working families or anybody who knows anybody in a working family, which we’re beginning to wonder if they do over there, that they would see the wisdom and the necessity of this. Any other questions? Well, let’s see. There are other people here. You and I can have a two way conversation one of these days, but let’s see who else might have a question. Any other questions? If not, I’ll get back there.
Speaker 1: (25:17)
Well, not on this topic yet. So are we into the non-childcare portion yet?
Linda Sánchez: (25:22)
Can we please talk about childcare for five minutes-
Nancy Pelosi: (25:25)
Yeah. I know. This is the purpose-
Linda Sánchez: (25:27)
Women live this every single day. And I get so tired of people thinking that what we have to say about this is not a priority. Are there questions about the bills or about what we’re trying to achieve here on behalf of working families? Is that too much to ask, that folks take an interest in that topic? Apparently. [inaudible 00:25:55] for my Republican colleagues in the rules committee who thought that it wasn’t an emergency. I had somebody from the budget committee say, “Well, it doesn’t meet the definition of emergency because it was an emergency before the pandemic. How do we define it as an emergency so that it has an end date?” I said, “Because it’s a super emergency now. It was an emergency before, it is critical now.” And we cannot assume that business will go on as usual if we don’t meet the needs of working parents.
Linda Sánchez: (26:34)
And this person was too old to have children under 18 years of age, but I do. I see it in my own household and I see it in the households of my constituents. And if people think that it’s not a problem, they’re not living the reality of most American families where both parents have to work or there’s only one parent who has to support the household or there are grandparents raising children because of drug overdoses. I get so tired of everybody wanting to talk about deals and red lines and not talk about what is relevant to the majority of families in this country. I’m sorry for that outburst, but it makes me so angry.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:17)
Well, what is so exciting about having so many young women in the Congress is that women across the country who are raising their families, parents across the country who are raising their families and they see people who are contemporaries of theirs having children, weighing the timing of everything. It really gives people hope that the policy will be improved to match the reality of America’s families lives. And this is so essential. Go ask your friends. You ask your friends. And I’ll tell you this. When we have ever had big meetings that I’ve gone to of any organization you can name where thousands of people go, when they have the breakout sessions and it comes to how do you manage family and work, that is the biggest breakout session. To the point that it now becomes the plenary, because this is a challenge, really, to America.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:18)
And as the Councilwoman so eloquently said, it was an emergency, it’s always been an emergency. It’s been a necessity. And now it’s an even, as you said, super emergency. It’s aggravated by this. And it really gets me when they say, “You’re an essential worker.” “Well, treat us as essential workers,” these women should say. And then to get to your other point, you’re essential workers who have to come to work. Your employer doesn’t, according to the Republicans, doesn’t necessarily have to care, have the OSHA provision that Mr. Bobby Scott who has … You want to speak to that, Bobby? Been a champion on.
Bobby Scott: (29:03)
Sure. There is, right now, no enforceable standard to protect workers from airborne infectious diseases. After the outbreaks in nursing homes, no emergency temporary standard. After all the outbreaks in the meat packing plants, no emergency temporary standard that the OSHA has authority to have. In prisons. All over the workplaces, people are dying and OSHA has no enforceable … They have a little guidance here and there, but it’s not enforceable. I’d like to brag about Virginia. Governor Northam just recently, his administration just recently passed a regulation, an emergency temporary standard for airborne infectious diseases to protect workers against airborne infectious diseases like COVID-19. And that’s in effect now. It’s the only state in the country that has that. California has it for a couple of industries, but Virginia is the only one with the OSHA-wide provision.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:13)
Thank you. Doctor Governor Doctor Northam being a model to the nation.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey: (30:21)
[inaudible 00:30:21] because Congressman Scott and I spent, individually, at least two hours, two hours and a half on phone calls with our farm workers. You know what they do for … They don’t have, there’s no childcare. They leave their kids home by themselves, or they take them to the fields where they’re exposed to all kinds of toxins and pesticides, et cetera. Have some sense of what is going on in this country and not what is in the bubble of Washington DC and the latest tweet or whatever is on Twitter. People are suffering, families are suffering. And we have the ability here to do something about it, which is why we’re standing here today. That’s why we’re going to pass two pieces of legislation which go directly to the needs of the people of this country and childcare.
Nancy Pelosi: (31:15)
We believe very strongly in this because it has been our experience. Now let me just say in the Bible, there’s an expression, suffer little children and come on to me. The Republicans in Congress give new meaning to that phrase. Suffer little children seems to be something they can tolerate. And not just in this case, but in the case of hunger. Millions of children in our country are food insecure. Many of their families also are food insecure. Many of their families are rent insecure.