House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, accompanied by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., right, arrives at a press conference ahead of House votes on H.R. 7027 - the Child Care Is Essential Act and H.R. 7327 - the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, accompanied by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., right, arrives at a press conference ahead of House votes on H.R. 7027 - the Child Care Is Essential Act and H.R. 7327 - the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The legislation would help parents afford child care and provide funding for personnel training and sanitizing centers.

While Senate Republicans continue bickering over the latest coronavirus relief bill, the House passed two bills to address the child care crisis brought on by the pandemic.

The legislation, passed Wednesday night, provides $60 billion to help pay for personnel, sanitation, training, and other expenses needed to safely reopen and run child-care facilities during the pandemic. If they become law, the funding would go a long way toward addressing one of the major hurdles to economic recovery.

“We cannot assume that business can go on as usual if we don’t meet the needs of working parents,” Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) said during a press conference. ″[Child care] was an emergency before, it’s critical now. If people think it’s not a problem, they’re not living the reality of American families where both parents have to work or there’s only one parent who has to support the household or they’re grandparents raising children.”

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The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act allocates $10 billion to construct, renovate or improve child care facilities. It more than doubles a child care grant program for states, from $2.9 billion to $7.1 billion, and allocates another $850 million to a separate grant program to fund child and family care for essential workers. It also includes several tax incentives to help families afford care, and encourage employers to spend on child care for their employees.

While the nation’s schools are proposing full or partial remote learning for the fall, pressure has doubled on parents to balance work and child care. According to a June report from the University of Oregon’s RAPID-EC Research Group, 47% of working families have lost the child care they used before the pandemic, and 60% of families using child-care centers reported losing their provider. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports show 21.5 million workers in the U.S. have a child under the age of 6. 

“We are not going to reopen this economy if there isn’t a substantial child-care investment,” Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a sponsor of the Child Care is Essential Act, said Wednesday. “We’re going to take every opportunity to make sure the Senate gets it across the finish line as well.”