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Washington Senator Patty Murray calls for support for childcare in Congress infrastructure package

Senator Patty Murray

Congress is in the midst of debating historic investments into childcare, education and healthcare. President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan faces resistance from Republicans and two senate Democrats, who have argued the package’s initial price tag, around $3 trillion, now $2 trillion, was too high.

Washington Senator Patty Murray says one key piece of the plan, universal preschool and subsidies for childcare, hangs in the balance of those negotiations. She argues childcare is an essential piece to getting the economy back on track.

Spokane Public Radio’s Rebecca White spoke to her about the package.

White: “Hi Senator, Thanks for joining us. Before I get into the details of this proposal itself, what do people need to know about the childcare portion of the Build Back Better Plan?”

Murray: “I have been working my entire career to try and solve a problem that every single parent faces when they work, that is how do you make sure your kids are taken care of, they’re safe and they’re learning. The issue of childcare has been with us forever, it is now for the first time at the forefront of our nation, and we have the possibility in the Build Back Better plan to make a significant change in the lives of working families across the country by making sure childcare is quality and affordable for all families.”

White: “These budget negotiations have been going on for a couple months now, and are kind of hard to follow if you’re not in DC apart of this process. Where are we at right now in the Congressional process of proposing these, getting these to a compromise point, and potentially making them into law?”

Murray: “Well I think writing legislation, and getting agreement amongst all the legislators is always a hard process. We have 50 Democratic senators in the United States Senate, every single one of them has to vote on this, every single one has questions about it, or priorities, and we have long conversations about what we put in it, what we can’t, how we get it to the vote count we need to pass this. So yes, the end process takes a little bit of time. But there is tremendous agreement across all of us that issues like childcare need to be addressed in a significant way, that housing is a significant challenge, that climate change is a significant challenge. And we are in the last few days of putting this all together, I believe the house would like to vote on it by the end of October, sometime the last language writing can take a few days that you don’t want to wait to do, but we’re in that process right now, and I’m confident this package will go before the house, and the senate in the next month.”

White: “One thing I’ve heard a lot thrown around is tht big price tag, when we think about the childcare component, and how important it is to include, how much it the childcare portion of it?

Murray: The childcare is a significant part of this total package, it is something that we really all recognize now is a barrier to people going to work. I’ve talked to so many families that want to go back to work, they’re on a waiting list. Childcare facilities themselves say a lot of their personnel, their teachers haven’t come back, they’re requirements are a lot tougher than they were before COVID, and they’re demand is really high. So everybody knows that if we want people to go back to work, if we want our kids to be in aa safe place, if we want them learning, so they can to do well, and so your as a parent can do a good job at work because you know your child is in a safe, competent place, that is a significant investment we need to make in Build, Back, Better.”

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.
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