Pelosi Remarks at San Francisco Press Event on Care Economy

June 11, 2021
Press Release

San Francisco – Speaker Pelosi delivered remarks at a press event with caregivers and advocates as part of House Democrats’ Care Economy Week of Action to highlight the importance of investing in caregiving as Congress continues its work with President Biden on the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much for your very, very generous introduction and kind words, Richard.  Richard Ybarra has been a leader on all the issues he talked about for such a while.  Before Richard took over here, though, I worked for many years with Sam Ruiz, and I wanted to acknowledge his leadership as well.  Richard is the Executive Director of Mission Neighborhood Centers.  Every day, he sees to the needs of the children of early education and Head Start.  And again, we just went together at the Latino community roundtable.

So, I see this sign for the children, and the drawing by the 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, that they're seeing 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 Centers 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 Jandres, 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 child care.  

Today, we're talking about the broader issue of care.  And this is – today, is the Care Economy Week of Action – not Day.  Week of Action.  And the care – includes another guest Julie Fisher.  And this is about the home care issue on which we have $400 billion in the President's initiative.  $400 billion for health care workers.  We’ll talk about that.

Julie, is Lester with you?  Lester, thank you.  Where's Lester?  Thank you for being with us.  Yes, 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 U.S. economy.  One of the debates that we're having this discussion on infrastructure in the Congress is, ‘What is infrastructure?’  If we wed ourselves on an old idea of infrastructure, infrastructure of the 1950s, we will not be Building Back Better.  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 child care, 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 with a disability or being seniors or whatever it is.

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 training, the support that they have, the ability for them to unionize, which is something that we are working on worldwide in that regard.  And we would hope that California can be a model to the rest of the country in that regard.

In our Rescue Plan – the one we just passed that was referenced – we had $45 billion for child care that was largely related to COVID, but we had to go well beyond that.  Now, I see that we have some other guests here as I look around, and I see a pair of voices, apparently.

[Applause]

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, to bargain collectively as we go along.  

And so we're going 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 – Head Start, helping Mission Neighborhood Center and other pillars of the community to have additional funding for the Head Start aspects.  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.

Now, again, much of that was rescue.  We go next to recovery, and in the Jobs Plan that is ahead, there'll be many – much more money because it will have a longer period of time.  Now, we have a once-in-a-century opportunity to fundamentally fix our broken care system.  It has lots of love.  It has lots of goodwill.  It doesn't have all of the funding and the recognition that it needs.  And it will, because of the Democratic Congress and Senate.  And while we would hope that this would all be bipartisan, 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 talked about.  

So, again, I can go over the numbers again and again.  This is, this is not a luxury we're talking about.  This is a necessity.  Pre-pandemic, child care in California ranked among the least affordable in the nation, and now, rebuilding cares – 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 child care 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 seven percent of their income on child care.  Invest in child care, learning, we're training the workers, important, expands access in the Head Start in places like the Mission Neighborhood Center.  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 year olds, universal, four years old.  This will enable them to come down to three year olds, very, very important.  

And this is one of the things that we've been fighting for so long.  It has national paid family and medical leave with twelve weeks of leave.  Twelve weeks of leave.

[Applause]

In San Francisco, again, you know, we have eight weeks of leave.  This will enable that to go to twelve.  Expands tax credits, including the Child Tax Credit.  Very important that we fought for, [Child and] 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 talk about this, about what they do, but also – okay, so it will – 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 how to go forward.

So, in that event, the, this Jobs Plan right now – see, it will be – it has two manifestations.  One is the Jobs Plan, 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 the next bill we have, at least.  I mean the Women's Caucus in Congress wants to put like an infinite price tag on child care because the needs are infinite, but nonetheless a couple hundred billion dollars.

It will ensure families are not forced to choose between taking care of a loved one or providing for the 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.  

There is a quote from Warren Buffett, who said – I think it's useful, “The closer that American 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 the values standpoint of our responsibilities to one another.  And, so, we consider it, yes, it's important economically, but we consider it a health and moral imperative.  So, that's what you will see in the weeks ahead as we go forward.

And we’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, with great appreciation to the Mission Neighborhood Center for the beautiful respect you pay to the people, the children and families who come here by having such beautiful, special venue for them.  So, when they come here, they will feel love, feel the respect and then thrive, and then thrive in that atmosphere.

With that, and appreciation and respect for all that is happening here, I'm pleased to yield to Richard Ybarra.

Thank you.

* * *

Speaker Pelosi.  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.  It isn't – this is what should be coming from above.  This is the experience that people are having.  This is what we need to address.  It doesn’t just speak to – and we’ll 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 in the Biden plan for infrastructure.  Because the facilities –

[Applause]

Obviously to have the – recognize the need, have the training and respect for the workforce and good pay, but also invest $25 billion in child care infrastructure to rebuild facilities and to increase the supply of care.  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.   Because many –

[Applause]

Of the people who would be benefiting, many are women and many of them are of color in our communities.  And what Julie talked about, about the pay, the disparities, ten – we've been having these hearings, over the years about having respect for our caregivers.  And one of our – over and again, this one person would testify.  Her speech was this: ‘I would say to the worker, 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.

[Applause]

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 on child care, days on post office, days of – there are many aspects of it.  Today is – this is a week.  Yesterday, Jackie Speier had – my colleague who co-represents San Francisco.  She had an event with children.  I know the children will be flooding this place on Monday.  Respecting their privacy, we’re here today. 

But I also want to say that across the country, there is a drumbeat 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 so 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 the Child Tax Credit or anything else that 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 about, 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.  Any questions on this subject?

[Applause]

Let’s hear it for the President of the United States. 

[Applause]

On this subject?  No?  Okay.  Any questions?

Q:  Off topic?  Do you think any further – should any further action be taken against Representative Omar for the comments?

Speaker Pelosi.  No.  No, I don’t.

Q:  Are you concerned about the divide it may cause?

Speaker Pelosi.  No, I don’t.  I think that she clarified her remarks and that was – 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. 

Do you have a question?

Q:  Madam Speaker, we’re set to open California on Tuesday, as far as COVID restrictions.  We'd love to get your thoughts as a San Francisco resident and someone who also goes to D.C. – very different places.  What are your thoughts on what's happening here?

Well, you're very smart to – astute to recognize the differences, because the decisions as to how to 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. 

[Applause]

She has done a fabulous, fabulous job. 

And I’m proud of Dan Bernal is the Chair of the Health Commission Board.

[Applause]

He’s had his finger on this pulse, minute by – second by second.  So, again, it – it's a big state.  It’s a big and glorious, diverse state.  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, the vaccine; that's a large issue that this President has – one of the things that was a big fight for us before when it – 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, as was indicated, there have been – our health care 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, Karen Bass, Chair of the Black Caucus now, Joyce Beatty – insisting that we have specific language in the legislation about testing, tracing, treating, so that we could reach all of the communities, all with the language and cultural appropriateness – we've talked about this, Richard – have it be appropriate so that people could really benefit from this.  And, now, with the vaccine, even more so.  So that the outreach is culturally and linguistically appropriate.  

In our community, we have many nonprofit organizations who do that all the time, so we wanted that funds to flow in a way that recognized recognize that need and opportunity and, actually, success with many more people being vaccinated.  We haven't reached everyone.  Some people still have reluctance.  But we have made – there has been a big difference made because of the resources that we put there and the insistence that the President had that everybody be vaccinated.  So that takes us to the place that we are, a place of opening up more. 

Now, people just have to make their judgement.  If someone isn't vaccinated, they should still continue to wear a mask.  That's what our physician – House physician – no, it's the Capitol Physician – a House and Senate position – that if you aren't vaccinated, you must wear a 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.  Our goal, in the Rescue Package was vaccines in the arms, money in the pockets, children back in school and workers back at their jobs in a safe way, in a safe way.

[Applause]

Once again, may I thank Richard Ybarra, the Mission Neighborhood Center.  This has been a glorious example, to the country, to our community, to the world, and I thank you, Richard. 

Did you have a question, dear? 

Q:  Yes.  So, Speaker Pelosi, my name is Maria with Parent Voices.  I really admire your work in Congress and your commitment to the caring economy.  We would like to know what we can do to support you? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Okay, so what we want to do is to have this drumbeat across America, because what we're doing is crossing a threshold.  We're saying home health – 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 they’re worth. 

And, as the SEIU, and others like the SEIU, in the Fight for 15, of course, we've been fighting so long for the Fight for 15. 

[Laughter]

And we want it to be higher.  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. 

[Applause]

Something different.  Something different.  And that’s why Joe Biden’s statement to Build Back Better, that doesn't just mean, and it's a big important thing for many of us, to build that greener – that's better, to build back greener – but, also, to build back 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 business, small businesses, women-owned businesses, minority-owned business, veterans-owned businesses, all those kinds of things to have some of the contracts that go into that.  Because, you know why?  It will make it better.  It will make it better. 

[Applause]

So, thank you for being part of the Care Economy Week of Action.

[Applause]