The U.S. House passed a pair of bills Wednesday that aim to help the child care industry as providers and early-learning centers struggle in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Child Care is Essential Act would establish a $50 billion fund that lawmakers say will help cover providers’ operating expenses and continue to pay their staffs, according to the office of US Representative Katherine Clark.
Additionally, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act earmarks $10 billion for providers to make safety renovations to their facilities and purchase personal protective equipment when they reopen.
Clark, a Democrat from Melrose representing the state’s 5th Congressional District, called the child care sector a “neglected industry in crisis” in a statement following the passage of the two bills.
“The COVID-19 recession has brought child care providers to the brink of financial collapse and left working moms and dads in every state without access to care for their children and unable to work,” said Clark, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
The bills would also create a new tax credit for employees to access quality affordable care, while providing incentives for employers to retain child care workers on payroll by expanding the employee retention credit.
In addition, $850 million would be dispersed across the country and U.S. territories to fill in gaps in dependent care for essential workers during the pandemic.
Clark said the hefty price tag on this legislation is necessary for these times.
“This historic moment requires funding of an historic proportion,” she said.
The bills will now head to the US Senate.
The House’s decision on these bills came after Republicans rolled out their HEALS Act on Monday, which would allocate $15 billion to child care providers.
Nick Stoico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.