WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a senior member of the Senate committees on Finance, Foreign Relations and Environment & Public Works, today issued the following reaction to the Biden administration’s newly unveiled America’s Families Plan.
“The American Families Plan further illustrates the strength of the Biden administration’s commitment to providing this country a pathway out of the pandemic and moving us toward a stronger future. Taken together with the recently enacted American Rescue Plan and just-announced American Jobs Plan, the American Families Plan helps round out the administration’s comprehensive approach to ensuring that a sweeping national economic recovery not only happens as quickly as possible, but leaves no one behind as our comeback continues. This is exactly the type of commitment – and vision – our country needs.
“I especially applaud the provisions in the American Families Plan designed to help American women, 2 million of whom have been forced by the pandemic to leave their jobs, to either stay in or rejoin the workforce. This includes provisions to ensure that low-and middle-income families spend no more than 7 percent of their income on high-quality child care, and $200 billion to offer universal preschool to all three- and four-year-olds. The president’s plan also will ensure that all publicly funded preschools are high-quality, with low student-to-teacher ratios, developmentally appropriate curriculum, and supportive classroom environments that are inclusive for all students.
“I am also encouraged by the inclusion in the president’s plan of other family-friendly policies like a national paid family and medical leave program, the absence of which has placed our country in striking contrast with the rest of the developed world. Extending tax cuts for families with children will make it easier for many American workers to make ends meet. And I welcome provisions that combat childhood hunger, including expanded school meal programs for 9.3 million children and a $25 billion investment to make permanent demonstration programs that provide summer meals to all children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Some 29 million food-insecure children can benefit from this provision.
“The president also is proposing several additional investments in our educational system that merit immediate passage. I strongly support provisions in the American Families Plan to provide two years of free community college education, as well as those that would make college more affordable for low- and middle-income students, including those attending HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions. Coupled with the president’s call to expand the Pell Grant program to provide up to $1,400 in additional assistance to low-income students pursuing their higher-education goals and an investment of more than $60 billion to increase college retention and completion rates, the American Families Plan is poised to make incredible strides toward closing the persistent equity and achievement gaps in this country.
“President Biden is also calling for $9 billion to train, equip and diversify American teachers in order to ensure that our public school students are ready for success. This comes atop significant measures to address teacher shortages and strengthen the pipelines for teachers of color, while dramatically expanding the mentorship and leadership training opportunities for teachers. These long-past-due investments in the people who shape our children’s futures is emblematic of the Biden administration’s overall respect for America’s educators, as well as its understanding that education is America’s great equalizer.
“I call on my colleagues in Congress to embrace and advance the measures in the Biden administration’s American Families Plan as swiftly as possible, while continuing to move this country past the pandemic and onward down the road to recovery.”