‘We’re so burned out, exhausted, overworked and overtired’: Women beg Congress to crack down on paid vacations and rising childcare costs at emotional hearing on Capitol Hill

The economy is failing American women.

That’s the message several speakers delivered — sometimes in tears — to the House Ways and Means Committee during a hearing on Wednesday, denouncing what they described as the country’s lack of paid furlough, a broken care economy and the country’s rising costs. In his opening speech, the Democratic leader said Rep. Richard Neal said that while the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t created the circumstances that force many women to juggle their careers, care for loved ones and deal with financial instability, they certainly do all of those things made it worse.

“We’re so burned out, exhausted, overworked and overtired,” Tori Snyder, a single mom to a 4-year-old boy and a small business owner in Pittsburgh and a member of the MomsRising advocacy group, told lawmakers. “We are struggling even more now because it is so expensive to feed our children. I hope you invest in the care and care infrastructure that working families need, with paid leave for all, affordable childcare, home and community services, and coverage that meets all of our health needs.”

While female labor force participation increases thereafter Canceling earlier in the pandemic, In May 2022, women were still working 656,000 fewer than in February 2020, just before COVID-19 hit the US to the National Women’s Law Center. Additionally, many women who have weathered mass school closures, layoffs and childcare shortages to return to work are left without the same pandemic-era benefits that once helped them since the improved child tax credit, one The federally mandated payment, get-through-leave program and extended unemployment benefit have since expired, despite the rise in the cost of living.

“My daughter is almost 2 and I would like to send her to daycare. But the dangers of COVID still exist and everything is so expensive.”

Nija Phelps, of Milford, Conn., said that while her family wanted extensive paid leave back in 2014, when she and her husband had to quit work to care for her mother-in-law, the need has only increased since then. She was put on leave in 2020 because of the pandemic while she was pregnant with her first child. Her husband was only able to take six weeks of paid leave to care for their newborn, and returning to work meant potentially exposing himself, the baby and Phelps’ mother-in-law to COVID-19. But her family didn’t really have a choice.

“We had to do what we had to do to keep his job,” Phelps said. “Now my husband has lost his job and I can only work one day every two weeks, down from three to four days a week. We’re in a state where we’re constantly on the alert, trying to prepare for what’s next, while still staying on top of our finances and taking care of our families. My daughter is almost 2 and I would like to send her to daycare. But the dangers of COVID still exist and everything is so expensive.”

Expanded unemployment benefits and child tax credits are a “lifeline,” Phelps said. Now that they’re gone, the Phelps family is reaching into their retirement savings.

“I struggled to pay the rent, gas my car, shop for groceries, and pay for my mom’s medication.”


– Donna Price from Cleveland, Ohio

Donna Price, of Cleveland, Ohio, had a similar story of making tough decisions during the pandemic. In addition to her work as a nurse, she takes care of her 18-year-old autistic son and her disabled mother. Her son’s mental health has suffered during the pandemic, and Price said she had to take eight unpaid weeks off to supervise him early last year when his school and care program was removed entirely due to a surge in the virus.

“I was struggling to pay rent, gas up my car, shop for groceries and pay for my mom’s meds,” said Price, who is also a member of MomsRising. “I was faced with $2,000 in unpaid gas bills and $800 in unpaid electric bills. We only got through it with the help of my older son and my daughter who is a social worker and a police officer. Otherwise I don’t know what I would have done.”

Eventually, Price had to quit her job at a hospital and take a job as a contract nurse so she could be more flexible and better at caring for her son and mother — even if it meant lower pay and fewer benefits.

“I know that so many working women can relate to my story,” Price said. “As mothers, essential workers and caregivers to elderly parents, we go out every day and do what we have to do to make sure everyone else is taken care of. But sometimes it feels like no one makes sure we’re okay. There are days when I just want to know that my health and financial and emotional wellbeing matter. That my elected leaders are behind me.”

“My company and other businesses are struggling with the effects of inflation and I am concerned about the prospects for a recession next year.”


– Alicia Huey, the first vice president of the board of directors of the National Association of Home Builders

However, lawmakers have been at odds on how to solve the problem. Democrats continued to push the proposal for universal paid family and medical leave promoted in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, while Republicans railed against “Biden inflation,” saying Democrats are not open to negotiating with them . They have instead expressed support for a bill that would do so Provide incentives to employers who have offered such benefits to their employees.

“Working women haven’t fared this badly under President Biden in decades,” said Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, the senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. “And with a looming recession, declining real wages and even higher gas prices, it appears to be getting worse.”

One witness testified in support of the Republican plan: Alicia Huey, first vice chairman of the board of directors of the National Association of Home Builders and a custom home builder, remodeler and developer in Birmingham, Alabama. She told lawmakers that the trade group “strongly believes Congress needs to adopt flexible, targeted and incentive-based policies” on child care and paid leave. She also noted that expensive building materials, inflation and labor shortages make housing more expensive, which put similar pressures on families and deserve the same attention.

“My company and other businesses are struggling with the effects of inflation, and I am concerned about the prospects for a recession next year,” Huey said. “Resolving these issues in a bipartisan manner should be urgently needed. Critical issues such as paid vacations and affordable childcare, alongside affordable housing, require immediate solutions to help working families and small businesses.”

But Democrats stressed that universally paid family and medical leave were the best answer, and some were frustrated that Republicans repeatedly blamed rising gas prices and inflation on Democrats during the hearing.

“It must feel a little strange for you to be here, to give testimony about your personal experiences, and basically to be told that the problem really is Biden, gasoline and inflation,” said Rep. John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat . contact the witnesses. “Apparently what you had to say didn’t come through, or there is a principle here that says government mandates are terrible, we should avoid these at all costs.”

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/we-are-so-burned-out-exhausted-overworked-and-over-tired-women-plead-with-congress-to-act-on-paid-leave-and-rising-child-care-costs-during-emotional-hearing-on-capitol-hill-11655335702?rss=1&siteid=rss ‘We’re so burned out, exhausted, overworked and overtired’: Women beg Congress to crack down on paid vacations and rising childcare costs at emotional hearing on Capitol Hill

Brian Lowry

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