Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Ahead of House Votes on Historic Child Care Legislation
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined House Democrats for a press conference ahead of the House votes on H.R. 7027, the Child Care Is Essential Act, and H.R. 7327, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, to provide child care relief for families and providers and support the safe reopening of the U.S. economy. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for being here on this issue of supreme importance to America: our children. Our children, our children, our children.
When people ask me what are the three most important issues are facing the Congress, I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children; their health, their education, the economic security of their families, the healthy environment in which they can thrive, a world at peace in which they can reach their fulfillment.
That is our purpose here. As we honor the heroes of our country, we have to recognize that they wanted us to focus on the future.
Before you, here, are some of the champions for our children, our children, our children. Congresswoman Lowey has been a maestro in orchestrating the appropriations process and, not only that, co-sponsor with Richie Neal of one of the pieces of legislation – so important.
Richie Neal isn’t here with us today. We are – the Ways and Means Committee is magnificently represented by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez. Not only is she a leader on this issue in the Congress, and in that Committee, but she is a mom and can speak firsthand about the challenges working moms face.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro: I call her the godmother of all of this. There isn’t one issue that relates to the well-being of our children, whether it’s tax credits – child tax credits or child care, whatever it is, that Rosa DeLauro isn’t persistently in the lead.
Congressman – Chairman Bobby Scott knows more about the technicalities of all of this and, not only that, the vision of what we are striving to do, as Chair of the Education and Labor Committee. It takes in both sides of it, education and workforce. As you – thank you, Mr. Scott, for your leadership.
And I want to also acknowledge the Co-Chair of the Women’s – Democratic Women’s Task Force. Do I have the title correct? Task Force?
Co-Chair Lawrence. Democratic Women’s Caucus.
Speaker Pelosi. Democratic Women’s?
Co-Chair Lawrence. Caucus.
Speaker Pelosi. Caucus, okay. And then the other thing, the Democratic Women’s?
Co-Chair Lawrence. Women’s Issues.
Speaker Pelosi. Women’s issues, okay –
Co-Chair Lawrence. Congressional Women’s Issues.
Speaker Pelosi. Very important institution in 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.
And the – 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 in 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, in 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.
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 whom were in college, one was a senior – 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, Joaquín, who’s adorable and – of course – and the thing is, we – if you ask any mom or any dad what is the deterrent to their doing their best in the workforce, wherever it may be, in 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 guests will do that, only to salute them for the vision they had, the knowledge they brought to it, the suggestion – the priorities they have established and the answer – solution this is to, again, having the fullest participation of women, just if I may say for women, because we do believe that when women succeed, America succeeds.
With that, I’m pleased to introduce the distinguished Chair of the Appropriations Committee, madam maestro, who orchestrated so many good things for us, Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York.
Speaker Pelosi. 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 legislation, the difference it will make.
Any questions on this subject?
Q: On this topic, Leader McConnell has said his red line is liability insurance –
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, you mean – I’ll answer your question, but, first, are there any questions about this very serious matter about who’s taking care of the children?
Q: Well, if I could tie that in –
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, okay, let’s see how you’re tying it in.
Q: Is one of your red lines having child care in the –
Speaker Pelosi. 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 are beginning to wonder if they do over there, that they would see the wisdom and necessity of this – of this.
Any other questions? That’s it?
Q: Yeah –
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let’s let just 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 may have a question. Any other questions? If not – oh, you back there.
Q: Well, not on this topic yet. So are we into the non-child care portion yet?
Congresswoman Sánchez. Could we please talk about child care?
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah.
Congresswoman Sánchez. For five minutes, at least?
Speaker Pelosi. I know. This is the purpose –
Congresswoman Sánchez. Because 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?
Chairwoman DeLauro. Hear, hear.
Congresswoman Sánchez. Is that too much to ask? That folks take an interest in that topic?
Chairwoman DeLauro. Maybe not.
Q: My first question was about this.
Congresswoman Sánchez. Apparently.
Chairwoman DeLauro. Apparently not.
Congresswoman Sánchez. You know, I got the same reaction form 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 is it an – you know, ‘How do we define it as an emergency so that, you know, 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.
And this person was too old to have children under eighteen 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.
Chairwoman DeLauro. Hear, hear.
Congresswoman Sánchez. I’m sorry for that outburst, but it makes me so angry.
Chairwoman DeLauro. Well done. Well done.
Speaker Pelosi. 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 contemporaneous – who are contemporaries of theirs, having children, have to weigh – 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, 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 that you can name, where thousands of people go, when they have the breakout section – 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. And as the Congresswoman so eloquently said, it was an emergency, it’s always been an emergency. It’s been a necessity and now it’s even an, as you said, ‘super emergency.’ It’s aggravated by this.
And, you know, it really gets me when they say, ‘You’re an essential worker.’ Well, treat us as essential workers, we say – these women should say.
And then to get to your other point, you’re an essential worker so you 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 has – do you want to speak to that, Bobby – been a champion on.
Chairman Scott. Sure, there is, right now, there is no enforceable standards to protect workers from airborne infectious diseases. After the outbreaks in nursing homes, no emergency temporary standard. After all the outbreaks in the meatpacking plants, no emergency temporary standard that OSHA has the 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 an OSHA-wide provision.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Doctor – Governor – Dr. Northam.
Chairman Scott. Dr. Northam.
Speaker Pelosi. Being a model to the nation.
Chairwoman DeLauro. Madam Speaker, just for a second, 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 child care. 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, D.C. and the latest tweet or whatever’s 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 in this country in child care.
Speaker Pelosi. 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 unto me.’ The Republicans in Congress give new meaning to that phrase. ‘Suffer little children’ seems to be something they can tolerate, 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. That has an impact on the well-being and the confidence the children have and the well-being of children.
So, what we’re talking about here is about a course enabling parents to be unleashed, to be able to go to work to support their families. But first and foremost, this is all about the children, for the children, as you said.
So, thank you all very much.
This is not going away. This is going to be not incremental. This is going to be transformative, as it changes the whole dynamic of our economy and our society, for the children.
Thank you to our Members.
Q: What do you think about Mnuchin talking about a short term liability bill?
Speaker Pelosi. Do you need to ask that question?
Q: Yes, that’s our job.
Speaker Pelosi. No, well I thought I answered it this morning.
Nothing. Not even not much. Nothing.