The Senate Democrats’ shop revamped the child care reconciliation proposal

the US rescue plan, which policymakers signed into law more than a year ago, earmarked $39 billion for child care. In October, the White House proposed investing an additional $400 billion in the sector as part of the Democrats’ multi-billion reconciliation package, Build back better, which would have sufficed to establish universal preschool; a new program capping child care costs for eligible families; and more.

That legislation disintegrated weeks later amid opposition from Manchin, whose support is essential to any party vote.

Now Murray and Kaine are proposing to spend about half – between $150 billion and $200 billion – on a future bill. More than $100 billion would be used to channel $72 billion into the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant program for stronger child care grants; $18 billion for a new grant program that would help states expand access to pre-K; and $12 billion to the Head Start program to boost teacher salaries — all over six years, the aide said.

Part of the CCDBG funds – $18 billion – would be earmarked for strengthening childcare infrastructure by improving facilities, increasing salaries and so on.

Lawmakers want to spend an additional $50 billion to $100 billion on a pilot program within the CCDBG that, like Build Back Better, would cap child care spending for families up to 250% of their state’s median income to that they spend no more than 7 percent of their income on child care up to age 5. The federal government would cover 90 percent of eligible families’ child care costs.

“Too many parents are shut out of the workforce because they can’t find or pay for child care,” Kaine said in a statement. “I am pleased to support this proposal to make child care more affordable, increase wages for American child care providers, and open new child care programs through reconciliation. .”

The changes are an attempt to roll back the original legislation in hopes of making it as palatable as possible to lawmakers — especially moderates, many of whom are just months away from contesting the election. The reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass spending legislation by a simple majority, requires the support of all Democrats in this chamber.

“One of the things we’ve heard from several senators and some states is that we have this existing structure, the Child Care Development Block Grant, and they would like that to be the primary purpose of a daycare. politics,” said Julie Kashen, senior researcher and director for women’s economic justice at the Century Foundation.

“So it is investing significant funds in this program to build on what already exists. Then the other thing we hear is that the child care infrastructure needs support…. so it also takes that into account.

Manchin’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The renewed push for childcare comes as Progressives pare their losses from the far more ambitious social spending plan that collapsed amid opposition from Manchin, with care advocates shifting their lobbying to focus on the policies to which the senator seems most open.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) again called for the inclusion of funds for home care during a SEIU rally at the Capitol on Thursday. But paid leave groups have been notably silent in what several people familiar with say is a tacit acknowledgment that imminent congressional action on the policy is unlikely given Manchin’s continued resistance.

Care advocates ‘now speak singularly about childcare, as it’s understood that childcare has a chance of being included – while other things’ like paid leave may not be. , Charlie Joughin, managing director of public affairs for the First Five Years Fund, mentioned. “We know childcare and pre-K were on [Manchin’s] short list of things he delivered to the White House in December as a package he was comfortable supporting.

Outside groups are increasing the pressure. MomsRising compiled eight hours of videos of moms, educators and others playing on LED trucks outside the Capitol from Saturday through Tuesday, in what it dubbed a “momibuster.” And Community Change Action is planning a series of strikes, rallies and other events across the country on Monday as part of its so-called Child Care Free Day.

If Democrats are unable to enact any form of investment in care, “there will be a lot of anger,” Kashen said. ‘Women viscerally feel the flight’ to POLITICO of recent Supreme Court vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade “that they don’t have the support they need to increase their economic security.”

“It’s going to build up and build up and I think you’ll really see the rage of women.”

Murray, Kaine and their allies say the sector’s dire straits make enacting child care money especially urgent, especially given a looming funding cliff. States must spend the money they received for childcare under the US bailout by September 2024 at the latest.

“For so long during the pandemic, child care providers kept it taped,” and “that money was a lifeline for them,” Kashen said. “When this goes away, if there’s nothing in its place, I don’t know how people will carry on.”

Strategists warn that the spending cut could also have serious political ramifications given its coincidence with the upcoming presidential election.

“If the funding runs out in 2024 before the presidential election, it will be problematic for the Democratic Party because there is no long-term solution to the industry’s problem,” said Democratic pollster Carly Cooperman. “COVID-19 relief dollars for child care providers have been popular with voters across the aisle, given the strain of the pandemic on families, but this issue is particularly important to Democrats and could discourage Democratic voters at a time when they need to be rallied and mobilized.

Senate Democrats have ruled out passing a bipartisan plan that would require 60 votes or the support of 10 Republicans. They consider this proposal, as the senator. Tim Scott (RS.C.) introduced earlier this year as falling far short of what is needed to support the industry.

“There seems to be little appetite to work across the aisle,” said Cheryl Oldham, vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Republicans denounced the Democrats’ original approach as a partisan approach that would “destroy child care as we know it,” said Senator HELP, a member of the Senate. Richard Burer (RN.C.) said at a March hearing on the matter. They say it risks increasing costs for some families and express concern that more than 30% of states could choose not to participate, excluding the children who live there.

Scott’s bill would take a narrower approach to the issue by simply reauthorizing the existing block grant program as it is, rather than making substantive changes.

The pandemic-induced drop in demand and soaring operating costs have forced many child care providers to close or scale back operations. Between February and April 2020, the industry lost 370,600 jobs, 95% of which were held by women, according to the National Women’s Law Center. In April, it was still down by more than 116,000 workers compared to February 2020.

Meanwhile, job vacancies have reached record highs. There were more than two jobs for every American looking for work in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, as many as 4.85 million people told the Census Bureau that they were out of work because they cared for out-of-school or daycare children.

“The air conditioning is running full blast and the windows are open,” said Kathryn Edwards, an economist at the RAND Corporation. “If we want to make people work and we see a constraint, the main policy is to act on this constraint. But this is not the path we have chosen.

Care advocates say that while Democrats can invest in child care, they will continue to push for all care policies, including paid leave and home care.

“We support what people are able to do – whether it’s childcare or home care, I hope it’s both,” said the chair of the National Partnership for Women. and families, Jocelyn Frye. “But we’re going to keep talking about what a comprehensive solution looks like, because we know that’s what people are asking. And if we don’t, we’re not actually fixing things.