There is a key step Congress could take to help the millions of women struggling to care for children at home due to school and daycare closures, said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y. ) at HuffPost: spend paid sick and family leave in the next. COVID-19 relief package.
Millions of women have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic, which could stem the tide.
“It’s an idea whose time is not only right, but which is an elegant solution to the epidemic we are in now,” said Gillibrand, who has long advocated for paid time off.
Gillibrand, along with Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) And Reps Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) And Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Sent a letter to incoming Biden administration and congressional leaders on Wednesday, urging them to prioritize paid time off.
The emergency paid leave provisions were passed in Congress with bipartisan support in March, but the benefits expired at the end of the year. And these measures only affected workers in some small businesses. The United States is among the few developed countries that does not impose paid holidays on sick workers.
In their letter, lawmakers urged President-elect Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) to extend and extend the leave to more workers.
“We need sick people to be able to afford to stay at home in order to curb the spread of the virus, and to keep their jobs so that they can support their families,” they wrote.
The HuffPost spoke to Gillibrand on Wednesday about paid time off, how the Senate can balance COVID-19 relief and impeachment, and various other crises facing the new administration.
Does it sound like an uphill battle over paid time off at a time like this, with so much going on?
I think it will feel less like an uphill battle after the inauguration. I’ll be working really hard next week to make sure it’s included in the next COVID package.
Why give priority to paid vacation? There is also the deployment of vaccines, public and local aid and the spread of unemployment.
Obviously, these are all extremely high priorities. But one of the most significant facts is that last month 140,000 jobs were lost in the United States. And this job loss was 100% female. Most were women of color.
We are therefore in a crisis in this country, where salaried women lose their jobs, lose their ability to provide for their families and lose their long-term earning potential.
One of the best ways to solve this problem is to offer universal paid leave to all workers.
COVID and this epidemic and economic collapse has really fallen on the shoulders of many women. Because when kids are not allowed to go to school because of COVID, [women are] often referred to immediately as the caregiver who must stay at home.
How do you see the Senate balancing this COVID relief program with an impeachment trial?
Well, the impeachment trial is necessary because of the crimes and misdemeanors committed by President Trump. You can certainly walk and chew gum at the same time.
I think you can absolutely complete our work on this COVID package. At the same time, we can open a lawsuit to convict President Trump of inciting violence, inciting a riot, inciting sedition, as well as his efforts to undermine the election results. in Georgia.
It’s not that hard to write the COVID bill now. We’ve been working on this bill since May, since the House introduced a robust COVID package. The Senate has tried to perfect these ideas.
Why did the paid leave expire in the first place? It’s so easy.
First of all, [it’s] something Mitch McConnell never cared about. And we have failed to convince Republicans in the Senate to care. Second, there are not enough women in Congress. This is a barrier, because, again, not all members of Congress understand the disproportionate impact of COVID on the shoulders of women and caregivers.
What would this paid leave look like?
First of all, it would apply to all workers. It wouldn’t be limited to small businesses. Second, it would apply to all events in life. So whether you have to stay home because of COVID or have a family member who has to stay home because of COVID or a child who has to stay home because schools are closed or you you yourself are ill, you are entitled to up to three months paid at 66% of your salary to meet these needs. And that would continue until the end of the pandemic.
Are you considering a more permanent paid vacation law now that Democrats have the Senate? If the obstacle was essentially Mitch McConnell as the majority leader, now it’s gone.
Correct. Now the bill can be drafted in part by Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray, two people who care deeply about national paid holidays. And the tiebreaker will be Kamala Harris, who is also passionate about paid leave, as did President Biden.
He continues to show no contrition. And he continues to fail to see that he is the instigator of this violence.
Kirsten Gillibrand on President Donald Trump
What else would you like to see in a relief package?
Oh, I want to see a lot of resources for cities and states. I want to make sure there are provisions for food stamps and food aid as there is a lot of hunger in my state and in the country right now. I want to make sure we are funding the health force to implement a nationwide immunization program, as the pace of vaccine distribution is unacceptable. What if we can hire hundreds of thousands more workers, and train them to support our nurses and doctors and do these vaccinations, through centralized sites, we can get more vaccines.
When it comes to vaccine rollout, it seems like a mess.
It is an absolute waste, it is insufficient, it is too slow. It was poorly planned. And these are all failures of the Trump administration.
I’m curious about the other priorities of the Senate and the Biden administration after the COVID relief. And one thing I’ve heard is that universal pre-K is the order of the day.
I hope. Mothers and fathers cannot return to work if you do not restore child care. We have lost so many child care centers because of the epidemic. As small businesses, they have been unable to survive. They did not secure resources for additional PPE or [social distancing] Needs. Before the pandemic, for four children looking for daycare, there was only one. Now, for eight children who are looking for a place, there is only one. The need has therefore increased exponentially.
And therefore, the economics of care must be addressed directly. And we need to pay our caregivers more. We need to pay full-time caregivers and we need to make sure our child care workers are paid above minimum wage and have real careers.
It seems like every policy you were talking about before COVID, COVID made it clear how necessary they were.
So necessary. It is very frustrating. If they just wanted to listen.
On a separate note: How afraid are you that members of Congress will be attacked – or worse – at the inauguration? What is your level of fear? What was it last week? And what is it now?
I am not afraid. I was not afraid last week for my own safety, but I am very worried that we will be attacked again. And I expressed those concerns. Our National Security Team is much more prepared for the next round of protests and possible violence and riots than it was for the sixth. So I am grateful for this work and these efforts.
But I’m still very concerned about the continued violence, which is one of the reasons I support not only impeachment, but Article 25, as well as the prosecution of President Trump. He continues to show no contrition. And he continues to fail to see that he is the instigator of this violence.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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