How Bipartisan Efforts in Congress Can Make Childcare More Affordable
Republican Rep. Nancy Mace and Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill discuss what can be done to make childcare more affordable childcare from a bipartisan perspective.
Air Date: October 14, 2021
Moderator: Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Head of Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Featured Guests: Nancy Mace, U.S. Representative, South Carolina, Mikie Sherrill, United States Representative, New Jersey
Many working parents have faced the challenge of finding affordable childcare in the past decades, with the issue being exacerbated further by the pandemic. Parents, especially women, have largely been forced to choose between paying rising childcare rates or temporarily leaving the workforce.
Because childcare is an issue that impacts all parents, regardless of their political affiliation, lawmakers are coming together to find common ground and seek solutions to support all working parents.
In a Common Grounds discussion moderated by Neil Bradley of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, working moms and Congressional Representatives Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) discuss the issues surrounding affordable childcare from a bipartisan perspective.
Childcare Issues Impede Women’s Ability to Stay in the Workforce
Both representatives noted that childcare centers, especially for infants, often have long waiting lists or exorbitant fees. Working parents must then make the difficult choice between putting their paycheck toward daycare or temporarily leaving the workforce to care for their children — an issue that creates a negative economic impact long-term.
“If you get out of the workforce for just one year, that’s a 40% drop in your income over the next 15 years,” Sherill stressed.
Mace agreed, noting that the expenses of childcare are also exacerbated by regulatory policies.
“Our regulations are so burdened, it doesn’t make a lot of sense and makes things more unaffordable,” Mace explained. “Sometimes we put laws into place, sometimes there is an unnecessary, unintended consequence.”
Finding Common Ground to Address Childcare Affordability and Supply
As high prices and limited supply affect childcare for all working parents, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are working together to find common ground and address these issues.
With respect to affordability, the bipartisan House Committee on Education and Labor recently passed the Build Back Better Act to limit childcare copays for families of young children, as well as providing voluntary free preschool services.
“I was happy to work with the Chamber to make sure that no one pays more than seven percent of their income,” said Sherill. “It’s not just an impact on women — it’s an impact on the economy as a whole that desperately needs to be addressed.”
In addition to reducing childcare costs, Mace emphasized the importance of incentivizing childcare employees to return to the workforce.
“Regulations can make childcare costs more exorbitant, [prohibiting] qualified individuals from having a job, [which] makes costs go up,” the representative explained. “[In] a lot of these positions, people were making more money on unemployment during the pandemic.”
“The [House Committee on Education and Labor will] include $39 billion in childcare funding through the federal childcare development block,” she continued, “so there are mechanisms to help with some of the costs and some of the burdens.”
Solving Our Nation’s Crises 'Isn’t a Zero-Sum Game'
When it comes to addressing affordable childcare and other issues in our nation, both Mace and Sherill encouraged people across the political spectrum to recognize that we must all work together.
“This isn’t a zero-sum game … we’re all Americans,” Sherill stressed. “If we don’t come together to address the crises of our nation and to really make sure that we are thinking through the best [policies] to address [them], we’re all losing.”
“The one thing that I would ask of everyone … is to help us lower the temperature,” Mace added. “I wish our leadership on both sides of the aisle would have a joint press conference sometime and talk about [working] on one [issue] and [then] do it.”