HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — President Joe Biden argued that investments in child care and other social safety net programs are imperative to keep America competitive in the global economy during a visit to a child care center in Connecticut on Friday, as part of his continued push for his stalled social spending bill.
Watch the president’s remarks in the video player above.
Biden visited a child development center in Hartford to promote his proposal to make such care free for lower-income families, and ensure that families making up to 150% of their state’s median income pay less than 7% of their salaries on child care. The proposal is part of a massive expansion of the social safety net that Biden has championed and is aiming to pass with just Democratic votes in Congress.
“Too many folks in Washington still don’t realize it isn’t enough just to invest in our physical infrastructure. We also have to invest in our people,” he said.
Biden went on to outline how his plan would reduce child care costs for Connecticut residents, and noted the disparity between U.S. spending on early child care versus greater investments in other countries, to argue that the lack of investment is causing the U.S. to fall behind.
“How can we compete in the world if millions of American parents, especially moms, can’t be part of the workforce because they can’t afford the cost of child care or eldercare?”
He briefly greeted some of the children at the center’s playground before speaking, at one point kneeling down to give a child a hug.
The president’s sales pitch comes as his Democratic allies have raised alarm that the American public does not understand the benefits of the package. There is renewed urgency among Democrats to push through the package ahead of an end-of-month deadline on transportation funding, Biden’s upcoming foreign trip, and a closer-than-anticipated race for Virginia’s next governor.
Talks between the White House and members of Congress continue, as they try to reach consensus both on the total spending level for the legislation and what particular programs should be included. Objections by centrist Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are forcing Democrats to shrink the package from Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion to closer to $2 trillion.
The fate of that legislation, branded “Build Back Better” by Biden, is also holding up a more than $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate this summer. House progressives are balking at supporting that bill until agreement is reached on a path forward on the social safety net package.
In an interview this week with The Associated Press, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, criticized Democrats and Biden over the stalled infrastructure package.
“They all got to get their act together and vote,” McAuliffe said. Asked specifically if he was calling out Biden, McAuliffe said, “I put everybody there.” McAuliffe is in a tight race with Republican newcomer Glenn Youngkin in a state Biden carried by 10 points just last fall.
Biden is also set to deliver remarks Friday at the dedication of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut, which is being renamed to honor a longtime friend, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, in addition to Dodd’s father, who was also a former senator.