In March, Klobuchar introduced the Marshall Plan for Moms Resolution, which called for a comprehensive set of relief programs to support working moms and rebuild the economy following the pandemic
WASHINGTON – Today, during a Joint Economic Committee hearing on the gender wage gap, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) highlighted the need for policies to support working parents. The Senator emphasized how paid leave and affordable child care policies would help address inequality in the workforce, noting that both are elements of the Marshall Plan for Moms, a Klobuchar-led resolution with a comprehensive set of relief proposals that would support working moms and rebuild the economy following the pandemic.
Senator Klobuchar: Well thank you very much Mr. Chairman, and I know there was some new staff that was introduced at the beginning but I want to particularly congratulate Tamara Fucile. She used to work for me many, many years ago and I know she’ll do a fantastic job for you as the Staff Director.
I wanted to start with Dr. Holder -- there you are. I think one of the things this pandemic has shed such a big magnifying glass on is just this difficulty for so many parents of balancing everything, and I always have this image of moms balancing their toddlers on their knees and their laptops on their desks, and dads teaching their second graders how to use a mute button, which they do better than any of our Senators, honestly.
My question is -- I did this Marshall Plan for Moms, which of course part of this is paid leave. And we really haven't done enough in this area in Congress and we have this possibility coming up in the next few months. Can you talk about how a paid leave policy could have helped during the pandemic, but also how it would help in the future to help address the gender wage gap?
Dr. Michelle Holder: Well thank you Senator Klobuchar, such a pleasure to answer a question from you about the gender wage gap. I did spend a lot of time last year writing and talking about how working mothers, in particular, were affected by the pandemic. And one of the issues was the inability of some women who were required to work on-site, their inability to actually do that because their children were learning remotely. They were doing school from home. So inevitably some women who were primarily single parents were unable to fulfill the expectations of their jobs because they had to be home to care for their children. So a paid leave policy, and might I just add, more affordable child care availability, will be such a benefit to working women when we think about the fact that a third of women who work in this country are mothers. And so we need to do everything we can to support these workers, and I wouldn't necessarily limit that to working women, I would say if a dad is a single parent -- has caregiving responsibilities -- these types of policies would benefit him as well. So, I feel in this country we haven't paid enough attention to the needs of working parents. And I think that the pandemic really exposed what their vulnerabilities are, what their needs are, and what’s required so they can be full participants in the American work life. And absolutely paid leave would go very, very far in helping working parents, as well as affordable child care.
Senator Klobuchar: Very good, thank you for that great answer. Ms. Poo, and this one kind of plays off of what Dr. Holder was talking about here on the child care issue. We know, again, another big magnifying glass during the pandemic, about the issue of child care. And especially -- actually, Senator Sullivan and I have a bipartisan bill on helping to train more workers and trying to address the shortage of affordable child care. And so part of it’s training, but a lot of it is wages, trying to attract people to this occupation. So it's the double whammy, there's not enough child care, and then we don't have enough people working in it, and then if they're not paid enough we’re not going to get them to work in it. And we have these literal child care deserts in some of the rural areas of my state where we would actually be able to add jobs and there's employers out there. Could you talk, Ms. Poo, about some policy solutions we should consider when it comes to increased pay for domestic workers, how we do that while still making child care affordable? And, the same kind of chicken and egg thing in the wages, making it affordable, and then also making sure we have the supply.
Ms. Ai-jen Poo: Absolutely, thank you so much Senator Klobuchar for your leadership on so many of these issues that are about equity and opportunity for women. There is a whole series of investments that we need to make in making child care, quality child care, much more affordable and accessible to American families. And the American Families Plan that the President has put forward and some parts of the American Jobs Plan begin to make those investments, and I know there are a number of child care bills in Congress that are about making child care much more affordable and accessible.
And I think that childcare funding at the federal level should also be tied to rate-setting and insurance that we are also raising the wages for child care workers. What I see is that we end up losing some of our best care workers and care providers and early childhood educators to other low wage service jobs because they simply can't make ends meet doing this work, despite the fact that they see it as their calling. So raising the wages, improving access to benefits, would be huge for this workforce
Senator Klobuchar: Right, exactly, and I would think figuring out how to help fund some of it so that you can still have it be affordable while increasing the wages.
Ms. Poo: Exactly.
Senator Klobuchar: Alright, thank you very much, and thank you Mr. Chairman. I just went a little bit over my time, allow others to go!
# # #