October 7, 2021
The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Bernie Sanders
Chair, Senate Committee on the Budget
The Honorable Patty Murray
Chair, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
The Honorable Ron Wyden
Chair, Senate Committee on Finance
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Bobby Scott
Chair, House Committee on Education and Labor
The Honorable John Yarmuth
Chair, House Committee on the Budget
The Honorable Richard Neal
Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means
Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Chair Sanders, Chair Murray, and Chair Wyden, Speaker Pelosi, Chair Yarmuth, Chair Scott, and Chair Neal,
As negotiations on the budget reconciliation process continue, we write to express our united desire for Congress to maintain crucial provisions of the Build Back Better Act including paid family and medical leave, Child Tax Credit, and child care & preschool. These interconnected investments are most successful when they are paired together, in order to sustainably advance families’ economic stability, address their care needs, and achieve lasting and positive effects on our communities and economy.
Each of these crucial provisions were included in this historic package by President Biden and Congressional Democrats because they are pro-family, pro-child, pro-work, and pro-business, all at the same time.
Consider the following:
- Only 21 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through an employer and only 40 percent have access to short-term disability insurance. Nearly one in four employed mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth and one in five retirees leave the workforce earlier than planned to care for an ill family member. The Build Back Better Act would ensure workers receive partial wage replacement to take time to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, or take needed recovery for oneself.
- The average annual cost of center-based child care for an infant is close to $12,000 per year – a price tag few families can afford for a service that is essential to parents’ ability to work. Meanwhile, most Americans live in a child care desert, while the flawed nature of America’s child care market leads to low wages for early educators, which leads to high turnover and an inability to recruit or retain early educators. The Build Back Better Act would make child care and preschool affordable for all families, and build a strong, stable early learning system that meets the needs of families and providers alike.
- The American Rescue Plan Act extended full Child Tax Credit eligibility to 23 million children—disproportionately Black and Latinx children—who previously did not qualify because their families make too little. Maintaining this monthly benefit through the Build Back Better Act for families with children would reach 88 percent of children and youth nationwide, a lifeline for parents trying to pay rent, buy food and clothes, save for their children’s education and meet other critical needs. It is estimated that child poverty rates alone will drop 45 percent.
Congress has an opportunity to ensure every child has a strong start in life and every parent has the means to provide for themselves and their families, while also supporting women’s labor force participation amid a pandemic and economic crisis that has had a devastating impact on working mothers, in particular. We implore you to pass the Build Back Better Act with the proposed funding for these vital provisions – paid leave, the Child Tax Credit, and child care & preschool – intact.
[SEE THE FULL LIST OF SIGNERS IN THE PDF ATTACHMENT BELOW]