With 2022 days away, the new Omicron variant on the rise and original Covid-19 strain still posing a large threat, children and their families bearing the brunt of the breakdown of our child care and education system, a tornado that devastated six states in its path, and a nation divided over inequalities, we could really use a Christmas miracle. We need to get Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan before the new year.
We live in a country where child care is too expensive and too hard to find. Parents, especially moms, are either taking on a huge financial burden or opting out of the workforce. This cannot continue to be the American way of life. The Build Back Better act represents the largest expansion of the social safety net in decades, including programs to lower families’ child care costs and boosting the economy. The bill caps families’ child care costs at 7% of income and as child care becomes more affordable for more families. And the bill will also make quality child care easier to find, by raising wages for child care workers and helping states add more child care providers and expand existing ones.
The White House states that by the end of the three-year rollout, 9 in 10 working families will be able to send their child to a provider they choose, including home-based and faith-based providers, and see their child care costs cut by thousands of dollars each year.
A strong majority of voters support passing the Build Back Better Act. Yet, the dirty politics are getting in the way of access to opportunity for all.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin – whose name has become synonymous with stalling the Build Back Better act although his own state would greatly benefit from this plan – needs to be reminded that he has the duty of uplifting people for the better of our society. In West Virginia, more than 26% of people ages 65+ have no natural teeth left — the highest rate of any state. And yet the chances of expanding Medicare to offer dental coverage through the Build Back Better Act are slim because of opposition from Sen. Manchin.
We need the majority of West Virginians to know that Build Back Better is about giving them access to programs that will make their lives better, including access to dental benefits and child care for parents to get back to work.
The bill passed the House right before Thanksgiving. Now in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set a Christmas deadline in hopes of making a real difference in families lives before the 2022 midterms. Another deadline they face is the potentially final payment from the expanded Child Tax Credit program, set to hit U.S. parents’ bank accounts on Wednesday December 15. Unless lawmakers renew the benefit, parents of 61 million children won’t receive additional monthly checks in 2022. Without the Build Back Better act to extend this economic stimulus, parents would no longer receive these funds that have been said to have lifted 3 million kids from poverty in just one month alone. Build Back Better is a big investment toward families and the economy. It impacts child care, universal pre-K, the child tax credit, affordable housing, climate action and so much more as it delivers urgent help today while forging a path to equitable systemic, long-term solutions tomorrow. These issues appeal to me as a mother of four who wants to have quality of life for myself, my family and community. Let’s hope the Senate listens to move us forward.