family forward

Parents and caregivers rallied outside Rep. Schrader’s Oregon City office to demand his support on the Build Back Better Act.

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Congress continues to debate the Build Back Better Act which, if passed, would make child care more affordable and accessible to families, establish a national, free preschool program for all three- and four-year-olds, give every American four weeks of paid family and medical leave, continue Child Tax Credit payments, help seniors and people with disabilities afford support services, and more. 

The Build Back Better Act is popular with voters across the country. Recent polling shows that 66% of Americans support it, including 61% of Independents and 39% of Republicans.

So what’s the hold up? Well, in part, it’s on Oregon’s Congressman Kurt Schrader.

In order to pass the Build Back Better Act, nearly every Democrat in the House must vote yes. Congressman Schrader is one of five reported holdouts. 

Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-District 5) is running for re-election in 2022 in the newly drawn Congressional District 5, which includes much of Central Oregon. After delaying a vote on the bill on Friday, Nov. 5, Congressman Schrader says he’ll only vote "yes" on the Build Back Better Act if it doesn’t add significantly to the national budget deficit

This has advocates for the Build Back Better Act scratching their heads, as the programs in the Build Back Better Act are paid for by billionaires and big corporations paying their fair share in taxes, and won’t cost most American families a penny. Schrader also recently voted in favor of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIF), the “roads and bridges” component of the relief package, which was ruled to have a significant impact on the national budget deficit by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 

“Enough with the stall tactics,” says Melissa Unger, the Executive Director of SEIU Local 503, Oregon’s largest labor union, which has been advocating for swift passage of the Build Back Better Act. “Care is essential and the system right now is broken. We need a federal investment to expand access to services and transform caregiving jobs into the kind of good, union jobs that support a family." 

“We won’t have an economic recovery if we don’t invest in care work,” says Andrea Paluso, Executive Director of Family Forward, a grassroots advocacy organization that fights for systems and public policies that value the work of caregiving and directly support mothers and caregivers. 

Paluso points to the fact that nearly 3 million women have already had to drop out of the workforce and in Oregon there is an 18% gender gap in workforce participation between mothers and fathers. 

“These disparities are disproportionately felt by women, mothers, and caregivers that identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and/or people of color, many of whom are essential workers,” Paluso adds. “If Congressman Schrader does not support the Build Back Better Act, it would be detrimental to caregivers in our state, and that would be detrimental to Oregon’s economic recovery. Without care work, no other work happens.”

“It’s disappointing to me that Congressman Schrader would keep obstructing progress on the relief our communities need,” says Reyna Lopez, the Executive Director of PCUN, an advocacy organization that represents Oregon’s farmworkers and Latinx communities. “The Build Back Better Act would be life-changing for so many families. I hope Rep. Schrader will stop holding up this important vote and support workers, mothers, caregivers, and families, and not billionaires and big corporations.”

Oregon moms, caregivers, and elected leaders are organizing and demanding Congressman Schrader’s support for the Build Back Better Package. 

Over 500 parents and caregivers, including nearly a dozen elected leaders, have signed on to an open letter to Congressman Schrader, demanding his support on the Build Back Better Act. 

“Congressman Schrader should listen to us as his colleagues and fellow party members,” says State Representative Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn), who signed the letter. “And I particularly hope he listens to me, as his constituent, and as a healthcare provider in his community. The people we were elected to represent desperately need the relief offered in the Build Back Better Act. I hope Rep. Schrader truly understands that care work is essential to our economic recovery."

This article was written by Family Forward Action Fund, not by The Bulletin's editorial staff.

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