When I want to send myself into a burning rage, I think about how it’s taken Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell six months (and counting) to get additional relief funding to families and child care providers, and merely an hour to announce that a nominee will receive a vote on the Senate floor after learning about the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If this doesn’t anger you, here’s why it should.
A Supreme Court vacancy can wait; families cannot.
By prioritizing a Court vacancy, McConnell is choosing politics over people. Child care providers barely made ends meet before COVID-19, and now additional costs and lower revenues means the math doesn’t work. One in five child care workers—95% of whom are women with a disproportionate share being women of color—have already lost their jobs, and 40% of providers say they will close permanently without more resources. Those who are managing to hold on are heroically caring for the children of frontline workers to make daily life in this country possible. Families are losing their jobs and sources of income and are unable to pay their rent, much less child care bills. And we know what’s needed—at least $50 billion to stabilize the system for the next six months. But instead, McConnell is prioritizing a Supreme Court nominee that will undoubtedly do more harm than good.
There are 39 days until Election Day and the last chance that voters will have to decide what they want the Court to look like for decades to come. Meanwhile, millions are out of work, schools are closed, and over 200,000 people have died from COVID-19. McConnell has let pandemic unemployment benefits expire, leaving workers without the income they need to make ends meet. Congress must act before the winter brings more infections, deaths, and school and child care shutdowns. In May, the House passed another relief package. In July, it passed a bill providing $50 billion in relief funding for child care. It’s time for McConnell to stop ignoring these bills and pass a relief package.
If this Supreme Court seat is filled before inauguration, universal child care legislation will face uphill battles to becoming a reality.
Ever since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, Republicans and conservatives have worked tirelessly to repeal or undermine every part of it through countless lawsuits and regulatory attacks. If you thought giving everyone access to a basic human right like healthcare was controversial, just wait until Congress passes a universal child care for all plan! Conservatives have been transparent in their litigation agenda to undermine the ACA and other legislation like it, so we know what they will do if we ever have a universal child care plan: tear it to pieces until it’s rendered almost entirely ineffective. With yet another conservative justice on the Court, progressive legislation that helps more Americans will be on the chopping block.
There will be detrimental consequences for women, LGBTQ folks, and families for decades to come.
We can almost guarantee that reproductive health, anti-discrimination protection, voting rights, gay marriage, immigrant rights, labor rights—the list goes on—will all be at risk if this seat is filled before inauguration. Over the past decade, we have gotten some of the best Supreme Court victories: gay marriage, Title VII anti-discrimination protection for gay and transgender people, DACA upheld. But we’ve also seen voting rights legislation eroded, the ACA undermined, and access to safe and legal abortion and contraception threatened. Child care providers and the families they serve are women. They’re women of color. They’re LGBTQ folks. They’re immigrants. Child care cannot be separated from this. Trying to do so undermines our collective power to create real change and make this place better for all of us.
If this seems dramatic to you, it’s because it is. Now isn’t the time to mince words. People’s rights are at stake. Thousands of Americans have died. Millions have lost their jobs. Families are struggling to pay their bills and feed their families. McConnell could choose to put families and child care providers over politics, but he’s not.
So, are you angry yet?