Building an Economy for Families Act Garners Widespread Praise

Jul 14, 2021
Press Release
Chairman Neal vows to include the proposal in infrastructure legislation as accolades roll in from organizations focused on paid leave, child care, and workers

WASHINGTON, DC— As Congress prepares to consider sweeping jobs and infrastructure legislation, noteworthy stakeholders are voicing their support for Ways and Means Committee Democrats’ urgently-needed proposal to provide American workers with universal paid leave and guaranteed child care. The Building an Economy for Families Act is a groundbreaking plan to provide working families with the essential supports that they need in order to participate fully in the U.S. economy.  

“For working families to stay afloat and for the U.S. economy to grow and compete with other nations, we must deliver universal paid leave and guaranteed access to child care,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA). “Over the past few months, I’ve received substantial constructive feedback on our Building an Economy for Families Act discussion draft and am more committed than ever to ensure that priorities like universal paid leave become law this year. I plan to include these proposals in legislation the Ways and Means Committee marks up as part of the upcoming infrastructure package. These policies are essential components of human infrastructure that will provide critical support to workers while also making our economy stronger and more equitable.”

A lack of paid leave and inadequate access to affordable, quality child care were challenges that existed for working families in the United States long before the pandemic struck. The COVID crisis exacerbated those barriers to participation in the economy and underscored the need for immediate, substantial federal action. Each day Congress delays addressing these issues harms working families and inhibits America’s global competitiveness. The Building an Economy for Families Act offers workable solutions to the structural problems that prevent too many Americans – particularly women and women of color – from finding and keeping jobs.

Here’s what key stakeholders are saying about the plan:

AARP

“AARP commends Chairman Neal for his thoughtfully designed paid leave proposal in the Building an Economy for Families Act, which would offer all workers paid family and medical leave. This groundbreaking legislation takes a crucial step in helping caregivers continue to support their loved ones while also protecting their financial security during challenging times.

"When work conflicts with family obligations, caregivers have to make difficult decisions that can lead to lost wages and missed career opportunities. Caregivers are not only the backbone of our long-term care system, they are a pillar of the paid workforce and this legislation will help protect them during otherwise uncertain times.”

American Academy of Pediatrics

“Pediatricians often see inequities play out in the exam room and the impact they have on a child’s overall health and development. Comprehensive paid family and medical leave is one way to address these inequities and ensure all parents can focus on their families’ health and well-being during life’s critical moments. The benefits of paid leave are well documented, setting the foundation for a child’s lifelong health and nurturing relationships. It is essential and urgent that Congress advances proven policies – like paid family and medical leave and a permanent expansion of the child tax credit – that are designed to put children and families first and give them the support to thrive.” – American Academy of Pediatrics President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP

American Sustainable Business Council

“This proposed legislation will begin to put the U.S. on par with nearly every other developed country in the world, and the American Sustainable Business Council applauds moving closer to that goal. The Building an Economy for Families Act, including paid leave, national child care, and tax credits, is desperately needed to level the playing field to ensure millions of American workers and the businesses for which they work remain competitive in the global economy.”

A Better Balance

“The Building An Economy for Working Families Act presents an inclusive and comprehensive plan for guaranteeing all workers across the U.S. the paid family and medical leave they need now. At A Better Balance, through our free legal helpline, we hear every day from workers across the country, especially low wage workers and mothers of color, who are forced to make impossible choices as they struggle to protect their health, care for their children and other loved ones, and stay afloat economically. We've seen firsthand how well paid leave programs in states like New York are working, offering a critical lifeline for workers so they needn't face dire financial straits in order to care for themselves and their loved ones. We applaud Chairman Neal for recognizing that paid leave is an urgent matter of equity, economic recovery, and public health and prioritizing this critical effort.” – Sherry Leiwant, Co-President, A Better Balance

Caring Across Generations and National Domestic Workers Alliance

“People shouldn't have to sacrifice the health of their families—especially those who care for our aging parents, children and family members with disabilities—for a paycheck. Access to paid family and medical leave ensures that family caregivers and care workers, who are disproportionately women of color, can get the care they and their loved ones need." – Ai-jen Poo, Caring Across Generations and National Domestic Workers Alliance

Center for American Progress

“Chairman Neal’s Building an Economy for Families Act represents a critical step forward in elevating the key policies needed to address the most pressing challenges facing families seeking to recover from a devastating pandemic.  Too many workers, and their families, have struggled daily to navigate the competing demands of work and family without access to vital economic supports.  No worker should have to choose between caring for an ill family member or losing their job.  Nor should workers, most often women and disproportionately women of color, lose out on a job or advancement opportunities because of negative perceptions about caregivers or caregiving.  Actions such as implementing a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, expanding the child tax credit, and boosting the child and dependent care tax credit are commonsense measures that can provide economic relief to workers and their families while enabling them to access the care that they need.  By bolstering worker productivity and retention, these policies also can help grow our economy and ensure that all families can benefit.  Chairman Neal’s leadership in putting forward a bold proposal that responds directly to the economic needs of families is to be commended.” 

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

“As people rebuild their lives after the pandemic and associated recession, supporting families with low incomes along a path to economic recovery has never been more important. This legislation provides crucial investments in expanding access to child care, creating a universal paid family and medical leave program, and extending the expanded Child Tax Credit and other refundable tax credits. In so doing, it invests in the key needs of families—including those from communities of color that have been disproportionately harmed—and supports the economic stability that’s so critical for children.”Olivia Golden, Executive Director of CLASP

The Century Foundation

"Even before the pandemic, families across the country were facing inhospitable workplace policies, out-of-reach child care costs, and child care deserts. The pandemic-related school, camp, and child care closures exposed the vulnerabilities the United States has created by not investing in and maintaining comprehensive child care and paid leave policies — and it has shown why we cannot go back to the way things were. For decades, the U.S. has chosen to leave women, and most acutely women of color, to shoulder care responsibilities largely on their own. The Building an Economy for Families Act —  by prioritizing and investing in child care, paid leave and the child tax credit  —  outlines a better future for women and families." – Julie Kashen, Senior Fellow and Director of Women's Economic Justice, The Century Foundation

First Five Years Fund

“The Building an Economy for Families Act would support millions of working parents and their families by making high-quality child care more affordable and accessible, especially in communities where the supply of child care does not meet local needs. America’s families need sustainable, innovative solutions like those outlined in this bill to address our nation’s longstanding child care crisis and get our country on track for a full economic recovery. We are grateful to Chairman Neal and the many child care and early learning champions in Congress who are working to build a stronger, more equitable child care system that works for all families who need it. FFYF looks forward to working with the Committee in their efforts to support parents and their young children.” – First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling

Main Street Alliance

"There is a clear and direct link between public health, paid time to care, small business viability, and a strong economy. Business owners are doing everything they can to stay afloat and at the same time protect the health and safety of their employees and customers. To help small businesses recover, Congress must step in to ensure equal access to paid leave becomes a foundation in our economy and federal support for child care is expanded as we seek to build back better and more resilient than before. For small businesses, a national, comprehensive paid leave program, like the Building an Economy for Families Act, is an essential component to ensuring more small businesses are able to make it back to profitability, all our employees are able to return to work and to level the playing field against corporations in the long run. We must never be unprepared for a crisis like this again."

MomsRising

“Our country needs a robust care infrastructure will lift families, boost the economy, enable parents to work, and create good jobs – and we need it now. Moms are looking to lawmakers to adopt universal child care, paid leave for when a new baby arrives or serious illness strikes, access to home- and community-based services for people with disabilities and the aging, a permanently expanded Child Tax Credit, living wages, and a path to citizenship for care and essential workers. That’s why we support the Building an Economy for Families Act, which will put our country on the path toward a just recovery by building the kind of care infrastructure that is so critical to families, communities, and our economy.” Nina Perez, National Director for Early Learning, MomsRising

National Partnership for Women & Families

“Our country’s economy cannot thrive in the long term without real investments in our care infrastructure – universal paid family and medical leave, access to affordable and high-quality childcare, long-term care services and supports, and living wages for care workers. The coronavirus pandemic ravaged every part of our country, placing the overwhelming burden, once again, on women and families of color. The Building an Economy for Families Act would provide families with the tools they need to build back from the devastation to their lives and finances caused by the pandemic, and ensure that going forward, no one will ever again have to sacrifice their jobs and income when they need to take time off of work for a serious life event. Paid family and medical leave that gives working people the time they need to welcome a new child, care for a loved one, or to take care of themselves is essential for all families, communities, and businesses to thrive. The saying goes that it takes a village, and to build back better it will take all of us to ensure that care infrastructure is not left behind.” – Debra Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families

National Women’s Law Center

“The last year has demanded resilience from working women nationwide, relying on their unpaid and underpaid labor to hold up our entire economy. The Building an Economy for Families Act would close many of the racial and gender disparities of our economy highlighted by the pandemic by making child care more affordable, ensuring child care workers can be paid equitably, enacting paid leave, and making the historic Child Tax Credit expansion within the American Rescue Plan permanent. This represents an historic and overdue investment in women and families, and we thank Chairman Neal for his continued leadership on behalf of working women.”

Paid Leave for All

“Paid Leave for All applauds Chairman Neal and the Ways & Means committee for the historic Building an Economy for Families Act, and for recognizing both the urgency and the opportunity of this moment. As the nation looks to recover from the pandemic and rebuild, paid leave is essential for public health, equity, and economic growth. No working person in the U.S. today should have to choose between their family and their paycheck, their life and their livelihood. We have the historic opportunity to finally change that thanks to this proposal.”

Sun Life U.S.

“It is time for all American workers to have paid family and medical leave (PFML) benefits. We applaud Chairman Neal and the Committee for their work to develop a strong federal PFML program that recognizes and builds on the existing leave benefits provided by many businesses and insurers.” – Dan Fishbein, M.D., president of Sun Life U.S. 

UsAgainstAlzheimer's

“The Building an Economy for Families Act is an encouraging and thoughtful proposal that, if enacted, would provide needed relief to millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s and their 17 million family caregivers. By enacting this plan, we will take an important first step towards ensuring families will no longer have to make the impossible choice between a job and provided needed care for their loved one by accompanying them to important medical appointments, filling in for absent and unavailable caregivers due to their own illness, COVID, or other situations. Paid family and medical leave has a significant positive impact on caregivers’ ability to provide care for their loved ones and on their own health and well-being, but too few employed caregivers either have access to it or are fully utilizing available benefits. The economic impact of not having access to paid leave can be devastating. Chairman Neal should be applauded for this important effort.”

 

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