Harris meets with CEOs to gain support for childcare proposals – Maison Blanche

By Susan Heavey and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted the importance of affordable child care to improve the competitiveness of the United States during a meeting with senior executives from seven companies, including Microsoft Corp and Etsy, on Thursday.

Harris – seeking support for a $ 3.5 trillion measure that tackles child care, the climate, health care and other priorities of the Biden administration – said the business leaders had shown that childcare and paid time off increased productivity and aided their recruiting efforts.

The meeting, which included the heads of AirBnB Inc, Gap Inc, Chobani, Seventh Generation and Patagonia, is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to secure passage of the new legislation, the gigantic size of which has already caused divisions. among even some Democrats. Affordable child care “when we put it first as a nation, contributes to our ability to be competitive globally,” Harris said, adding that this also has a direct impact on recruitment, retention, worker productivity and corporate profits.

The White House said companies attending the meeting supported childcare and paid vacation policies.

Harris said that Build Back Better, Biden’s program for the post-pandemic recovery of the US economy, was aimed at cutting costs for families, helping businesses and strengthening the economy, while closing the “cracks. and long-standing failures of American society.

Economists estimate that the lack of access to family-friendly policies, such as child care and paid parental leave, explains nearly a third of the decline in the participation of American women in the labor market by compared to other OECD countries.

Nearly 2 million women have left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic to care for children and elderly parents, and many have yet to return to work.

On Wednesday, Biden met with business and education leaders, including heads of United Airlines and health care provider Kaiser Permanente, to discuss efforts to find ways to get more people vaccinated against COVID. -19.

The coronavirus has disrupted the economy and killed more than 617,000 people across the country.

Companies have generally struggled to hire workers during the pandemic for a variety of reasons, although unemployment has plummeted after rising last year amid widespread shutdowns.

After promulgating a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus bailout in March, Democrats are now pushing the $ 3.5 trillion measure, which includes $ 726 billion for universal preschool for children of 3 and 4 year olds and childcare for working families, and helps caregivers of the elderly and disabled.

“When workers do not take enough care of their families, it can translate into lower productivity, increased absenteeism and increased turnover – all of which take a toll on companies’ bottom lines,” he said. a White House official said, adding that a separate coalition of more than 275 companies had supported the daycare proposal.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Andrea Shalal and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Lisa Lambert, Hugh Lawson, John Stonestreet and Jonathan Oatis)

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