News Releases

CHILD CARE: Murray Delivers Speech On New Legislation to Help Working Parents Afford Child Care

Jul 08 2014

Under the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act, working families next year could see a tax credit of $1,600 for one child or $3,200 for more than one child

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Tuesday, July 8th, 2014, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Senators Shaheen, Boxer, and Gillibrand in introducing the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act, which would increase the tax credit working families can receive for child care costs and expand the credit to countless low-income families who currently are not eligible.  At a time when parents are struggling to meet the skyrocketing cost of child care, households next year could see a credit of $1,600 for one child or $3,200 for more than one child – nearly three times the maximum benefit many families are eligible to receive under current law – if this legislation passes Congress. Sen. Murray discussed the new bill in a speech on the Senate floor. 

“Updating this tax credit to reflect the needs of families in today’s economy would be a critical step forward in terms of our larger effort to make sure working parents—dads and moms—have a fair shot,” Senator Murray said on the Senate floor.  “I believe that by putting in place policies to make child care more affordable, by making sure women get the equal pay they deserve, by raising the minimum wage so that millions of workers have a better shot at lifting themselves out of poverty, and by taking steps to ensure students aren’t overwhelmed by debt after graduating from college, we could break down some of the very real barriers that are holding families and our economy back. And there is no reason we shouldn’t start with right now, with the bill we are introducing today.”

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“As we look for ways to create jobs and expand growth in the 21st century, it’s clear that our country’s economic success goes hand in hand with that of women and working families. So we have got to make sure our policies are updated to meet the needs of today’s working parents. And one area we really need to take a look at is child care.”

“The cost of child care has skyrocketed in recent years. Full-time child care – for just one child – can cost families more than $10,000 annually. And for families below the poverty level—those who are already struggling the most to make ends meet—child care can, on average, swallow up a third of what parents are able to bring home. This is a real problem for far too many hardworking parents—and it’s also a real problem for our economy.”

“Because when parents are struggling to find reliable, safe, affordable care for their children during the day, it’s going to be harder for them to give it their all on the job. And even worse, child care is so expensive that some parents—most often mothers—are deciding it’s not even worth returning to the workforce…this means families are being held back from gaining the economic security they are working so hard to achieve.”

“That is exactly why my colleagues and I are introducing the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act. This legislation would boost the benefit working families can receive for child care costs, and it would make the child and dependent care tax credit refundable, so that those working parents who are struggling the most to make ends meet can better afford the child care they need to work and support their families.”

“If Congress passes this bill, working families next year could see a credit of $1,600 for one child or $3,200 for more than one child.  That’s almost three times the maximum benefit many families are currently eligible to receive.  This bill would be a real help to hardworking families who are trying to raise their children, pay the bills, save for college, and put something away for retirement.  And it could help break down one of the biggest barriers mothers face when thinking about re-entering the workforce.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks, as prepared:

“Thank you, Madam President.

“I’m here to discuss the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act, a bill my colleagues Senators Shaheen, Boxer, Gillibrand and I introduced today, which would update the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to offer working families more relief from the rising costs of child care.

“Madam President, when the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit was enacted, kids were playing with Rubik’s cubes and listening to 8-tracks.

“Well, a lot has changed since then.

“And one of the most important changes our country has seen since that time is the rise of women in the labor force.

“Since the mid-1970s, women’s participation in the labor force has increased by 23 percent.

“Most women now work full time, and in two-thirds of families with dependent children, both parents work outside the home.

“Madam President, over a period of time in which the middle class has been squeezed by an increasingly global economy, and higher prices for everything from health care to college, women joining the labor force has helped to ease some of the burden.

“In fact, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has called the increasing participation of women in the workforce ‘a major factor in sustaining growing family incomes.’

“And a recent study by the Center for American Progress found that between 1979 and 2012, the U.S. economy grew by almost 11 percent as a result of women joining the labor force.

“As we look for ways to create jobs and expand growth in the 21st century, it’s clear that our country’s economic success goes hand in hand with that of women and working families.

“So we have got to make sure our policies are updated to meet the needs of today’s working parents.

“And one area we really need to take a look at is child care.

“Madam President the cost of child care has skyrocketed in recent years.

“Full-time child care – for just one child – can cost families more than $10,000 annually.

“And for families below the poverty level—those who are already struggling the most to make ends meet—child care can, on average, swallow up a third of what parents are able to bring home.

“This is a real problem for far too many hardworking parents—and it’s also a real problem for our economy.

“Because when parents are struggling to find reliable, safe, affordable care for their children during the day, it’s going to be harder for them to give it their all on the job.

“And even worse, child care is so expensive that some parents—most often mothers—are deciding it’s not even worth returning to the workforce.

“Madam President, this means families are being held back from gaining the economic security they are working so hard to achieve.

“The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit was of course intended to help parents overcome these barriers.

“But today, the benefit working parents get from the credit is a small fraction of what child care actually costs.

“And because of how it is structured, the lowest income working families can’t benefit from it at all—meaning they have to bear the full brunt of child care costs on very low wages.

“Madam President, it is clear this tax credit is one of the policies we need to bring into the 21st century.

“And that is exactly why my colleagues and I are introducing the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act.

“This legislation would boost the benefit working families can receive for child care costs…

“And it would make the child and dependent care tax credit refundable, so that those working parents who are struggling the most to make ends meet can better afford the child care they need to work and support their families.

“If Congress passes this bill, working families next year could see a credit of $1,600 for one child or $3,200 for more than one child.

“That’s almost three times the maximum benefit many families are currently eligible to receive…

“So this bill would be a real help to hardworking families who are trying to raise their children, pay the bills, save for college, and put something away for retirement.

“And it could help break down one of the biggest barriers mothers face when thinking about re-entering the workforce. 

“Madam President, the need to expand access to affordable child care is something I talk about with my constituents in Washington state very often.

“And during those conversations, what I hear from parents is  ‘I am so glad you are focused on this. It’s a real issue for us.’

“Updating this tax credit to reflect the needs of families in today’s economy would be a critical step forward in terms of our larger effort to make sure working parents—dads and moms—have a fair shot.

“Madam President, I believe that by putting in place policies to make child care more affordable…

“By making sure women get the equal pay they deserve…

“By raising the minimum wage so that millions of workers have a better shot at lifting themselves out of poverty…

“And by taking steps to ensure students aren’t overwhelmed by debt after graduating from college…

“We could break down some of the very real barriers that are holding families and our economy back.

“And there is no reason we shouldn’t start with right now, with the bill we are introducing today.

“I hope all of my colleagues will give the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act serious consideration.

“I hope that we’ll be able to make it easier for moms and dads to afford safe, reliable care for their children while they are at work.

“I think we can all agree that parents deserve to have that peace of mind.

“I believe that if we enact this bill—and build on it with other critical policies to help working families—our economy will be much stronger now and over the long term.

“I’d like to thank Senators Shaheen, Boxer, and Gillibrand again for all of their work and leadership on the part of working families, and I will yield the floor.”