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The House Just Passed Two Child Care Bills Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

by Diana Holiner

According to a report on The Hill, the House of Representatives passed two child care bills on Wednesday. These bills aim to help both families with the financial burden of child care and the underfunded and neglected child care industry. These bills are also intended to help the child care industry and families specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first bill, entitled the Child Care Is Essential Act, would help out by giving $50 billion to the child care industry. This bill also included language to “provide relief from copayments and tuition payments for the families” that are having financial trouble due to COVID-19. The child care industry has long been neglected but the House is finally realizing how essential child care is, not just for children and parents but the economy as well. This bill would help programs that look after infants and toddlers and it would be much-needed help as they have been close to falling apart since the pandemic.

Those who opposed the bill argued that it would cost too much money. Republican Representative Kay Granger said, “This bill would appropriate $50 billion for the child care industry, more than its entire annual revenue. Overly burdensome and complicated application requirements would accompany those funds. This means providers would spend their time on applications and reporting requirements rather than caring for the children and keeping them safe.”

Despite the arguments, the bill passed in the House. Before the vote, Rep. Katherine Clark told the Huffington Post, “We bailed out the airline industry. We bailed out banks, and now is our moment to be serious about child care and stabilize this piece of our economic infrastructure.”

This bill passed 249-163 and was decided on party lines; no Democrat opposed this bill while 162 Republicans and Libertarian Justin Amash voted against it.

The second bill, entitled the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, has tax provisions that are aimed at making child care more affordable and providing long-term relief for the providers of child care. Like the first bill, this bill passed in party-line votes, passing 250-161. Once again, all Democrats voted in favor of this bill, along with 20 Republicans. 160 Republicans and Amash voted against it. This bill would aim to expand the child and dependent tax care credit and it would also create a new payroll tax credit for employee dependent care benefits that employers pay. The bill would also increase the funding for the Child Care Entitlement to States program and invest $10 billion over the next four years to improve child care facilities.

While Republican members of the House said that they agreed that access to child care is important, many of them criticized the bill as partisan. Republican Rep. Tom Reed said that the bill was “no more than a copy-paste of various Democratic child-care proposals, superficially edited to link to the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Nina Lowey, who is the House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman, went against that, saying that the bill would help families and the economy. “Every single industry counts on child care. In order to save our economy, we need to save child care,” she said.

Header photo by Andrew Ebrahim on Unsplash

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