WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is open to a national mandate for paid family leave and child care as the administration begins to develop a massive infrastructure and jobs bill that could follow the $1.9 trillion relief bill now making its way through Congress, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday.
House Committees are set to start cobbling together Biden’s coronavirus relief bill this week, although certain elements – including income limits for stimulus checks – remain under discussion, according to Yellen.
The House is expected to pass the relief bill by the end of February, with the Senate to follow. Democrats want to get the relief package signed into law by mid-March, because that’s when enhanced unemployment benefits will expire without Congressional action.
Biden has already said he intends to announce his next major initiative in his first address to a joint meeting of Congress, which is set for Feb. 23.
Yellen offered some details in an appearance Sunday on “Face the Nation” about what to expect in that package, saying it will encompass infrastructure development, education and job training, climate change, and measures to improve economic competitiveness and grow job creation.
Asked if her ultimate goal is for the U.S. to have a mandated national family leave and child care policy – something many other industrialized nations already offer – Yellen said: “It’s certainly something that President Biden is interested in.”
“The current package he’s proposed, the American Rescue Package, is intended to deal with the immediate crisis, the economic crisis and the health care crisis,” Yellen said. “But beyond that he looks forward to proposing ideas to address long-standing challenges that our economy has faced, and a leveling off or even decline in women’s labor force participation rate because they don’t have access universally in the United States to paid family and medical leave and child care is certainly something he’s going to want to address.”
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The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein contributed to this report.