tv Reps. Mikie Sherrill Nancy Mace Discuss Affordable Child Care CSPAN October 14, 2021 11:09pm-11:45pm EDT
national conference of the state legislature. watch "washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern on c-span now. join us with your phone calls, facebook comments, text messages, and tweets. browse through our latest collection of c-span products, apparel, home to core, and accessories. there is something for every c-span fan. shop now or anytime at c-span shop.org. next, representatives mikie sherrill and nancy mace discuss access to affordable childcare. from the u.s. chamber of commerce, this is half an hour.
neil: good afternoon. for those of you who are just joining us on the virtual aspect of this program, i'm neil bradley, executive vice president and chief officer at the u.s. chamber of commerce. hopefully you've turned to one of our common grounds series. this is an initiative we launched earlier this year where we bring together a democrat and republican lawmakers to talk about an important issue over a cup of coffee. we do this in partnership with compass coffee, a local coffee roastery in washington, d.c. founded by two marines. they have 12 locations. for those of you who are here in person, there is one two blocks that way, and another two blocks that way. four -- for those of you joining
us virtually, i hope we can treat you to a cup of compass coffee in washington. i'm privileged to be joined by two distinguished members of congress in their sophomore and freshman years, respectively. representative mikie sherrill from the 11th district of new jersey. a democrat, a navy veteran, and currently serving in her second term. she'll be joined by nancy mace from south carolina's first congressional district. the first female graduate of the citadel. a former business leader. she is learning the ropes on capitol hill as a freshman member of congress. one of the things these two lawmakers have in common is passion about the issues of childcare we were just talking about in our panel of economists. both understand the importance of the issues to working parents, local communities, and the business community. more important than understanding, these are representatives who have taken ideas and put pen to paper to
begin solving the problem. we are going to learn more about their perspectives on the childcare issues confronting our community and country. maybe we will see if we can find common ground. thank you for joining us. how are you doing today? >> great, thank you for having us. neil: excellent. i mentioned we call this common grounds. i have my cup of coffee here. both of you on capitol hill, which as i recall, runs on caffeine. although not everyone chooses the same type of way to get their caffeine. are you coffee drinkers? how do you take it? rep. sherrill: the answer is usually any way i can get it. i love compass coffee. i have enjoyed it before.
i'm not drinking it now. i had an espresso with three shots. i'm fully caffeinated at this moment. but i'm definitely a coffee drinker. neil: congresswoman mace, we might be behind. i have certainly not had three shots of espresso. but are you a coffee drinker? rep. mace: every single day i drink coffee. i have to stop by noon, or i will be up at all hours of the night. i have a french press, i make cappuccinos, any way i can get whenever i am in the mood for it that day. i love coffee. neil: maybe we will have to start a coffee bar as a way of bringing members together across the aisle. in the old days, a literal bar, but we might be able to get away with a coffee bar. >> when congress opens back up
again, i have a nitro cold brew keg in my office. i keep my staff caffeinated. it is delicious. neil: i like that approach. next time we are on the hill we , will stop by your office for a cold brew. enough about coffee. let's talk about childcare. one of the things the pandemic exposed amongst a lot of things was how a lack of access to affordable childcare can really impact the ability of parents, working parents, to simply go to work. by some accounts, about 14 million parents with young children in this country. access to affordable childcare, in particular, was a problem pre-pandemic. and with childcare centers closing, many understaffed, it has become its own epidemic
amidst the pandemic. congresswoman sherrill, you have thought about this before your time in congress, and what you have been working on. talk about how you see the issue. i think everyone will agree on the importance of it. what do you think are the potential solutions? rep. sherrill: i have thought about this for the past 16 years, because i have a daughter. for so many women, this is something that is such an impediment to maintaining employment, staying in the workforce. to me, it was a shock. as a good feminist, i have always envisioned my husband and i would be equal partners, 50-50, yet i got pregnant, i was on maternity leave, and i was looking for childcare out of the workforce.
i have yet to meet the working moms who said to me childcare was a breeze, it was lovely, they had their baby, found quality and affordable childcare center next door, they took her child as soon as they were ready to return to work. for most of us, you can actually find a childcare center that accepts infants. many of them don't until they are two years old. you can imagine that is a problem. then you might get to a childcare center with a two year waiting list for infants, which is a problem. if you can find the center, many times, you are looking at paying your whole paycheck towards childcare. it is difficult, hard to find, do you say this is going to be a long-term investment, but for the short-term, it will not make economic sense for me or my family. too many women choose to get out of the workforce.
and we know if you get out of the workforce for just one year, that is a 40% drop in your income over the next 15 years. i'll tell you, in new jersey, before the pandemic, we had one spot of childcare available for over two children. now we estimate it is one spot for every five children after the pandemic. neil: congresswoman mace, you are a mother, as well. a working mother. talk about how you came to arrive at this issue. do you see the same things in south carolina as congresswoman sherrill sees in new jersey? rep. mace: yes, it is pervasive, it is everywhere. i'm single working mom. when covid hit, it made the day to day challenges much more difficult. all of a sudden, all of us working moms and dads, not only did we have to work from home,
we had to take care of our kids. i am a little luckier. i have a little 1, 1 that started high school, ones more independent, but she was right, if you leave the workforce as a mom and come back later on, you lost skill set, time, wages. i decided to start my own company, i work from home, because i wanted to work but take care of my kids. i worked from home when they were infants, toddlers, and elementary school. but not many have this opportunity. one thing we have to recognize is sometimes in this country, it is affable to childcare. and any other sector in our workforce. sometimes, our regulations are so burdensome, it doesn't make a lot of sense to make things more unaffordable. take things in d.c., where parents have to wait longer and pay more for childcare.
i sponsored legislation to repeal the regulation that stated if you are a childcare worker, you have to have a college degree. many people don't need a college degree to take care of children and have quality care available to working families and working parents. it is really understanding we have put in laws, sometimes there are unnecessary, unintended consequences. that is the case in just about every place the government has played a significant role. like in south carolina, you need a license for hanging wallpaper. to be a hairdresser or cosmetologist, people have to pay $20,000 a year because of the regulations we have. not only are these things the federal government looks at, but we should see the state and local regulations that make these things more burdensome for all working families? >> that is a great segue.
today our chamber leaders are made up of state and local representatives across the country. when you think back to the beginning of the pandemic and the bipartisan covid passage, one of the things that congress did was provide funding. one of the things that local communities did at the state and local level was that they addressed regulatory barriers that might have been inhibiting the supply of childcare services. do we need to look at both sides of this as we think about how we might find common ground of how to move forward on tackling this challenge? congressman cheryl, is that a way to bounce back from the pandemic? >> we certainly have to address supply-side issues.
we also have to address the affordability side of the equation. we just passed this through the labor committee and i was happy to work with the chamber on the language to make sure that no one pays more than their income. across the country, we are seeing shortages of childcare on the supply side and also affordability issues to the point where half of the state, center-based infant care is more expensive than state college tuition, which is shocking. i don't think many people realize the crisis that so many are facing which is again why so many women choose to say this is not making sense for my family to do this yet we know from the numbers, they have not been returning to the workforce and
it is presenting a critical crisis. we need that back. the u.s. over the past decade has done a poor job with working women with respect to some of our developed nations like the u.k. and germany. in the u.s., our women's employment is at about 66.3%. we look at germany, 72.8%. the u.k., 71.6%. we used to be a leader. from the 70's to the 90's, we excelled at this, and we just lost ground. when you think about the fact that for every percentage of women employed, that can lead to a 1.5% increase in economic growth. if we have the level of the u.k., an increase of 5.3%, we would have almost a $600 billion more in gdp.
it's not just an impact on women, it's an impact on the economy as a whole that needs to be addressed. >> you talked about your work on the supply-side issues and regulatory issues. are there also things that can be done on some of the cost side? rep. mace: a lot of that goes back to regulations. regulations can make childcare costs more exorbitant. in part, we have paid people to stay home so a lot of these positions when people were making more money on unemployment during the pandemic until today, they don't want to go back to work. we are saying that continue on today based on the decisions the federal government made to
supplement the unemployment income people can make from state to state. we have foregone the governor, he decided to pause that the -- this summer. the ability for people to be incentivized to go back to work is also another issue that in a lot of these industries, it is only adding to the problem. again, it goes back to we're trying to do something good at the federal level, but we incentivize behavior that isn't good for the rest of the market. with all the spending happening right now, including the reconciliation package right now they are going to include $39 billion in child care funding. there are mechanisms to help with some of the costs and burdens. headstart is going to receive a billion dollars.
you will see states around the country try to implement four-year-old pre-k. that's another benefit of working families. to speak on the women that have left the workforce, that is now a choice. what we saw with covid shutting down schools, millions of women made that choice. it's the unintended consequences of our policy that does what we do not want it to do. that's something to think through, how do we make it better without having a worse outcome? host: one of the things that i am struck by with my colleagues across the country is it isn't a new jersey or south carolina issue. it is everywhere. often at the state and local
level, it has surpassed politics. there are so many issues that in today's polarized environment fit neatly into the red, blue. that's not the case when leaders get together to talk about childcare. i'm curious if that is happening in congress or are you seeing a change in your conversation with your colleagues? is there a sense that we have reached a point where we have to figure out some way forward to begin to address this problem? talk about how it is changed over the last 2.5 years. rep. sherrill: i think it has changed not because of partisan agreement, it is because more women are in congress. this is just an area where we
have been underrepresented. so many people in congress historically haven't dealt with the debacle that is childcare in this country on such a personal level as so many working moms have who are now in congress and bringing this to the force. when you have people who have presented different ideas with childcare and you have working mothers saying that's not how it works on the ground and that's not going to help 50% of the women, the working moms in my district, that's what has moved the ball forward. it has brought this conversation to the forefront. i would say that we have seen so many suburban women engaged in politics. this is something that's important to them and me. i have personal experience on just how difficult this is. i have friends throughout my
town who have chosen to get out of work because of the burden placed on their families and they have struggled to get back into the workforce. i think because of that, because we have so many women representatives that we have seen get into congress, that has moved the conversation forward. host: i am reminded about something the business leaders say. there is something about value and expertise. you bring that from your own personal experience. do you find this is something on your side of the aisle is an increasing topic of conversation? rep. mace: yes because i am a single mother and i look at how we schedule hearings. this isn't how a mother would do it because we know the burden of working mothers. having more women in congress, moms in particular being able to
talk about these issues from a personal perspective is an added benefit. are republicans and democrats working together? not so much, i would say. coming from a state lawmaker position, then coming to congress, when i was in the majority as a state lawmaker, even though it was my bill and i knew it would pass without democrat support, i almost always reached across the aisle to make my bill better. there isn't as much of that at the federal level. we do it in our committee work from time to time. the days of truly reaching across the aisle, shaking hands, i think covid has exacerbated that because we can't see each other face-to-face in person. for myself personally, i'm not doing a lot of in person.
i am doing a lot of these zoom calls because the pandemic is raging. i would like to see is do more on these issues, figuring out where we can work together, even if it's 5% or 10%, these events or conferences pulling people together are truly beneficial to all of us. neil: that's a great segue. today, we are focusing on childcare but in the past, we have tackled infrastructure and climate change and immigration. these aren't things that you solve in a 30 minute zoom conversation, but we started conversations. you have an eager audience here who together to solve problems.
i'm curious what we can do to help both of you and your colleagues who share in that belief of convening to try to facilitate some of those conversations? whether it's around childcare or another issue. do you have any advice for us about how we can be helpful to you to begin breaking down the barriers that seem to exist in washington and so many state capitals today? rep. sherrill: i come from a district that -- where we lost quite a few people in 9/11. we are along the commuter train line into new york city and 40% of the people that died in the twin towers were from new jersey. i was attending 9/11 ceremonies with so many towns this past weekend. something that came up again and again was during 9/11, we were so united.
we came together in a powerful way to confront the crisis. i am in a district where i have republican areas and mccright areas of my town -- democrat places in my town. no matter where i went this weekend, we came together so much then and we aren't facing the crises together today. a reminder to people throughout the country, this isn't a zero-sum game. it isn't as though somehow republicans win and i lose and that's good for the country. we are all americans. we don't come together to address the crises of our nation and to make sure that we are thinking through the best policy to address this. we are all losing.
i'm sure that everything we passed, i can tell you that even things my party passes, it's not the way that i would do it. but i'm working hard to get the bills in a better place. some of the thinksmart republican colleagues put forward -- some of the things my republican colleagues put forward -- when you work together on a policy that's going to be good for the majority of americans, that's powerful. it's important to my district and too often in washington, that is not well understood. rep. mace: i will add to that, during 9/11 ceremonies this weekend, i represent a lot of veterans and their a lot of veteran events related to 9/11. the recent events in afghanistan
impacted our veterans. when we commemorated 911 this weekend, that was the same conversation whether it's in new jersey or south carolina, people remember that was one of the last times we were able to pull together as a nation and come together. one thing i would ask of everybody in the room or watching this is to help us lower the temperature. so many times, we get so worked up over an issue that we stoke the flames of violence in some communities. i had my house spray-painted the summer. helping each of us and communicating and talking about these issues, but lowering the temperature. covid-19 has exacerbated the way we treat each other and now we can't even communicate with members of our own churches or
at the thanksgiving table, you name it. we have serious issues that we need to tackle together. i wish our leadership on both sides of the aisle would have a joint press conference sometime and talk about we're going to work together on this one thing and do it. i was disappointed will me look at transportation infrastructure and every republican amendment got tossed in the trash. i'm not going to vote for the $3.5 trillion, but i think there's some common sense things we can do that are nonpartisan. i think we can do that when it comes to tracking down equipment left in afghanistan, it was a partisan vote. it's upon us to not be party to that, to not contribute to that, to work together. the way i see it, it's easy to be in the minority and vote no about things. what am i going to do when i'm on the other side?
i don't want to be a part of that. i want to find ways to work together that won't break the bank. previous to covid, our economy was flourishing. wages were high. will me cut taxes, many of the small businesses and hospitality in the tourist district, our employers were offering higher wages and better salaries and benefits. i've talked to many small business owners that were offering childcare to be paid for by their companies so the person could come into work. what creative ways can we work on these issues together and create an environment where the conditions are better for people to be able to educated, to work, raise their kids and retire in what i think is the best nation in the world and we are able to do that right now. i don't know what it's going to take, but it's incumbent upon each of us to set a better example than we did the day before.
host: that's exactly where i want to take this. i want you to challenge us. you are talking to the business community today. we aren't the only stakeholders in the system. there are stakeholders we should be working with. who is it that you talk to that you would like to see us talking to to see if maybe we can form some kind of coalition strange bedfellows if you will to help you all move the ball forward? do you have any recommendations or challenge for us? rep. sherrill: i think labor is great. i would say transportation and infrastructure is one of the great winds we have had in the
bipartisan infrastructure bill which has about 70% across the nation. i would remind her because i sit on a house services committee that tracking down gear and afghanistan is a priority. we are working together across the aisle to get a lot of this stuff done. i think we need to celebrate the wins and continue to build the bipartisan's and many of the committees and jurisdictions that we operate in. with childcare, that was something that i have spoken to with members of my district especially some of the different chambers across my district. this is something that i will tell you is simply not something that only affects democrats or republicans. i wish i could say there was someone in my district where we had a great childcare model that
we wanted to export to the nation. that's just not the case and that's why were working together in new jersey to attack and address this. i carry that fight into washington, because i really do think as i go across my district, as i talk to small businesses, as we talk about our workforce shortages, i remind them if we don't address childcare, we aren't going to be able to fully have our economy up and running. if we shut down our schools right now, that's going to be a huge impact on the economy. that's something we're working hard in new jersey to make sure the school stay open and we can do so safely. all of these childcare issues, we have stakeholders with teachers, labor unions, private public partnerships as we build infrastructure of tomorrow. to make sure we have the childcare to do that.
it these things that we address across all party lines and across all people because this isn't just something that we can have in a partisan way because it affects so many people. especially the economy and the workforce of the nation. host: congresswoman mace, i will give you the last word here. any challenges for those assembled here today? rep. mace: i was in transportation infrastructure with every republican that rejected and i tried to work and my communities -- committees. oversight committee does have oversight over inspector general. i tried to have ideas that would be bipartisan. a reality that i have seen, it has been very partisan when there is truly a majority in my
district. infrastructure is extremely important. i have port, i have the 10th fastest growing district in the nation. i really thought that transportation infrastructure would be the place in the house where we could work together. the higher ups decided it wasn't going to be that way. i hope that we can do better in the future. i saw firsthand how many women in the workforce had to battle being out of school last year and the importance of childcare for our younger generations and the really young families. also looking at the different caucuses, problem solvers caucus is a good one of democrats and republicans working together. i'm trying to build relationships with folks for the long-term to be able to do work together.
i helped pass a couple of pieces of legislation out of committees in the house and we need to do much more of that in the future. i want to remind everybody the importance of working in a bipartisan manner. the senate is divided 50-50. in the house, there is a three-person majority. there is no mandate to have this record level of spending we are talking about. the mandate is to work together in a better way. it is incumbent upon all of us who are elected to make that commitment to not only the business community, the small businesses. my business -- my district is built on the small -- backs of small businesses. we have some tough incisions ahead for our country, communities, and future generations. i want to thank you for your time today.
rep. mace: host: i hope the audience will thank me in joining -- will join me in thanking you. you have been incredibly generous and we look forward to working with you on these and other issues ahead. >> friday, testimony on exclusionary zoning and its impact on communities and affordable housing, held by a subcommittee at noon eastern on c-span. online at c-span.org, or on our new video app, c-span now. ♪ >> you can be part of the
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