"And in an economy where most families have two working parents, childcare isn't a luxury -- it's a necessity."
The Senate on Thursday is scheduled to vote on a bill that would amend and reauthorize through fiscal year 2020 the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990. The program provides funding to the states for child-care subsidies for low-income families, as well as money to improve the quality of child care.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that implementing S. 1086 would cost $13.1 billion over the 2015-2019 period, an increase of $1.3 billion over current spending levels.
Reid was careful to note that the child-care issue -- like so many others embraced by Democrats -- is of particular concern to women.
"This bipartisan measure is an investment in America's mothers, 65 percent of whom work outside the home," he said. "Yet they earn less and are less likely to go back to work after having children than men are -- in part because of the shortage of safe, affordable daycare.
"This program is helping millions of parents -- especially mothers -- get back to work and help support their families."
The federal program now subsidizes the daycare bills of 1.6 million children, but that's "only a fraction of the need," Reid said. "We should be doing more to guarantee every parent who wants to work can afford adequate supervision for their children and every child, regardless of income, has a safe place to learn."
In addition to expanding federal subsidies for daycare, the bill would require those subsidized child care providers to undergo criminal background checks and complete first aid, CPR, and other health training. It also would require annual inspections of licensed programs.