55 progressive groups urge Biden to go big on 'family-friendly care infrastructure'

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Ayelet Sheffey
·3 min read
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President Joe Biden unveils part of his infrastructure plan in Pittsburgh on March 31. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • 55 progressive groups called for Biden to invest in care infrastructure to support women and people of color.

  • They called for a national paid and medical leave and permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit.

  • Democratic lawmakers have been advocating for those measures to be included in infrastructure.

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The first $2.3 trillion part of the infrastructure package President Joe Biden unveiled on March 31 included some elements related to care-economy measures, like investments in home care. But progressive and liberal groups want Biden to go bigger on such measures in the next part of his plan.

Led by Invest in America and Care Can't Wait, 55 progressive groups called for Congress and the Biden administration to invest in care infrastructure to bring economic gains for women and communities of color, according to the letter, which was first obtained by The Hill. The letter notes that over 2.3 million women left the labor force in 2020, of which more than 600,000 were Black women, and one in six child-care jobs lost during the pandemic have not returned.

"It's time for the Biden administration and Congress to deliver for women by investing in a family-friendly care infrastructure that works for the millions of people who need care and support, those who have had to leave the workforce to become unpaid caregivers, and for the paid caregivers who have been historically undervalued," the letter said.

The letter, which was signed by the Service Employees International Union and MomsRising, said that to rebuild the economy, Biden must invest in measures including:

  • High-quality child care and and long-term support services for aging adults and people with disabilities;

  • Creating millions of new care jobs and ensuring workers are paid family-sustaining wages with benefits and the option to unionize;

  • Creating a national paid family and medical leave program;

  • And updating the tax code to focus on women and communities of color, including permanently expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

The letter also called for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers to provide them with economic security and opportunity.

Some of the measures the letter called for were already included in the first part of the infrastructure plan. For example, the plan proposed a $400 billion investment toward home and community care for the elderly and disabled, along with $48 billion toward an expansion of apprenticeships with a particular focus on women and people of color.

The letter echoes other efforts to encourage the creation of a national paid leave and a permanent expansion of tax credits. On April 5, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal sent a letter to Democratic committee members calling for the permanent expansion of the CTC and EITC, and 41 Democratic senators sent a letter to Biden on March 26 requesting the same thing.

Neal also said he will give every worker the right to paid family and medical leave in the infrastructure bill, and if employers or states already have paid leave policies in place, the bill will provide support to maintain and improve them.

Republican leadership argues that care-economy funding doesn't belong in an infrastructure bill. In a statement two weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that while Biden could have drafted a "serious, targeted infrastructure plan" that would have received bipartisan support, "the latest liberal wish-list the White House has decided to label 'infrastructure' is a major missed opportunity by this Administration."

The Biden administration is arguing for an upgraded definition of infrastructure. For instance, Cecilia Rouse, the chair of Biden's Council of Economic Advisors, said in an April 3 CBS News interview that the care economy is a major part of the 21st century economy and therefore deserves inclusion.

Biden is expected to unveil the second part of his infrastructure plan in mid-April.

Read the original article on Business Insider