Pelosi: Building Back Better Means Women Working for 'Fulfillment,' 'Not Hampered' by Lack of Affordable Child Care

Susan Jones | September 9, 2021 | 6:20am EDT
Text Audio
00:00 00:00
Font Size
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is surrounded by children and grandchildren of lawmakers on January 3, 2019. (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is surrounded by children and grandchildren of lawmakers on January 3, 2019. (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Speaking about the Democrats' $3.5-trillion entitlement package on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a news conference, "I'm so excited as to how transformative it is," especially for mothers of young children who want to go back to work "to reach their fulfillment."

Pelosi said building back better means sending more moms to work and more children to federally subsidized daycare:

"[I[] we're going to build back better, we have to do so including many more people, starting with women, who took the biggest hit, the biggest hit in the COVID," Pelosi said:

More than 4 million women could not go to work. Their children couldn't go to school. They couldn't have -- they didn't have child care. They couldn't afford it. It wasn't readily available. They may have had a sick parent or sibling with a disability.

Now, we will correct that. And so, we would hope that this will not only enable women to go back to work but to reach their fulfillment; to have a path in their own careers that is not hampered by the fact that they have uncertainty about the safety of their children.

According to the White House, the Democrats' plan would "ensure that low- and middle-income families spend no more than seven percent of their income on child care, and that the child care they access is of high-quality." The plan also would "provide universal, high-quality preschool to all three- and four- year-olds."

Pelosi reached back fifty years to criticize President Nixon -- and his speechwriter Patrick J. Buchanan -- for vetoing a publicly funded child care bill in 1971.

‘So, again, just for your information, I remember -- now, some of you weren't born then,” Pelosi said:

I remember that we were on the brink of this when I was having my small little babies, my five children in six years. We saw that in the Congress of the United States when Richard Nixon was president.

In a bipartisan way, the Congress passed the child care bill. Look, in the history books, everybody thought the president would sign it. It was cause for great excitement and would make a big difference.

Somebody named Patrick Buchanan intervened, making it a cultural issue, like we're sending our children to a Soviet-style situation by having child care, and the president vetoed the bill 50 years ago, 1971.

So, it's long, long, long overdue that we recognize the importance of our children and their care, the value of women in the workplace, and the only way that we can truly Build Back Better is with women in the workplace.

So that's why this is my theme all along, with our members has been Build Back Better with women, remarkable, remarkable transformational initiatives in this legislation.

Nixon's 1971 veto message, written by Buchanan, criticized "communal approaches to child rearing" versus "the family-centered approach."

Here, verbatim, are Nixon's nine objections to the 1971 attempt at having the federal government directly involved in child care:

First, neither the immediate need nor the desirability of a national child development program of this character has been demonstrated.

Secondly, day care centers to provide for the children of the poor so that their parents can leave the welfare rolls to go on the payrolls of the nation, are already provided for in H.R. 1, my workfare legislation. To some degree, child development centers are a duplication of these efforts. Further, these child development programs would be redundant in that they duplicate many existing and growing Federal, State and local efforts to provide social, medical, nutritional and education services to the very young.

Third, given the limited resources of the Federal budget, and the growing demands upon the Federal taxpayer, the expenditure of two billions of dollars in a program whose effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated cannot be justified. And the prospect of costs which could eventually reach $20 billion annually is even more unreasonable.

Fourth, for more than two years this administration has been working for the enactment of welfare reform, one of the objectives of which is to bring the family together. This child development program appears to move in precisely the opposite direction. There is a respectable school of opinion that this legislation would lead toward altering the family relationship. Before even a tentative step is made in this direction by their government, the American people should be fully consulted.

Fifth, all other factors being equal, good public policy requires that we enhance rather than diminish both parental authority and parental involvement with children--particularly in those decisive early years when social attitudes and a conscience are formed, and religious and moral principles are first inculcated.

Sixth, there has yet to be an adequate answer provided to the crucial question of who the qualified people are, and where they would come from, to staff the child development centers.

Seventh, as currently written, the legislation would create, ex nihilo, a new army of bureaucrats. By making any community over 5,000 population eligible as a direct grantee for HEW child development funds, the proposal actively invites the participation of as many as 7,000 prime sponsors--each with its own plan, its own council, its own version of all the other machinery that has made Head Start, with fewer than 1,200 grantees, so difficult a management problem.

Eighth, the States would be relegated to an insignificant role. This new program would not only arrogate the initiative for preschool education to the Federal Government from the States--only 8 of which even require kindergarten at present. It would also retain an excessive measure of operational control for such education at the Federal level, in the form of the standards and program guidelines to be set down by the Secretary of HEW.

Ninth, for the Federal Government to plunge headlong financially into supporting child development would commit the vast moral authority of the National Government to the side of communal approaches to child rearing over against the family-centered approach.

mrc merch