House committee weighs calls for federal paid family leave, need for affordable childcare

WASHINGTON — Millions of women were forced to leave their jobs during the pandemic in the U.S. and many still have been unable to return to work.

The House Ways and Means committee recently heard testimony from working moms about the challenges they continue to face that were exacerbated by the pandemic.

“We are so burnt out, exhausted, overworked and over tired,” said Tori Snyder.

Snyder testified about caring for her 4-year-old son with Autism as well as helping care for her grandmother.

As a single mom, Snyder said trying to run her own business as a self-care coach while also providing for her family has been difficult in the face of unaffordable childcare costs.

“I can’t get sick,” said Snyder. “I can’t get hurt because if I do, I won’t be able to work and then what would happen to my family? I live in fear every day of the what ifs.”

Snyder shared her story in an effort to urge Congress to pass more employee protections and to take steps to make childcare more affordable.

Democrats in Congress have pushed to extend the expanded child tax credits and to pass a federal paid leave policy.

“Women are working hard,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA). “Our economy still doesn’t seem to be working for all of them.”

Republicans on the committee, meanwhile, argued that the Biden administration’s economic policies have only hurt working moms even more as they tackle rising inflation.

“Working women haven’t had it this bad for decades with the looming recession, real wages shrinking and even higher gas prices ahead, it looks to be getting worse,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).

For moms like Snyder, the need for Congress to act is urgent.

“I hope you will invest in the care and care infrastructure working families need with paid leave for all, affordable childcare, home and community-based services and coverages that address all of our healthcare needs,” said Snyder.

The House passed a Democrat-backed federal paid family and medical leave bill last year but it hasn’t gone anywhere in the Senate because of opposition from Republicans and at least one Democratic Senator about cost concerns.