On Tuesday, April 26, 2022, the Economic Policy Subcommittee of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing, “Child Care and Other Policy Tools to Combat Bottlenecks and Inflation.”

Chair Senator Warren (D-MA) started the hearing with an overview of the problem – inflation is on the rise due, in part, to labor force shortages – and the need for investment in child care as part of the solution. She stated that affordable and reliable child care would allow many parents to re-enter the labor force. The Committee called five witnesses to provide testimony regarding the increase in inflation, three of whom focused their remarks on the child care crisis.

Several familiar themes emerged during the hearing. The Honorable William E. Spriggs, Professor of Economics and Chief Economist at Howard University and AFL-CIO, noted that half the labor force is made up of women, who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic’s shutdowns and the current lack of child care. Melissa Colagrosso, owner and director of A Place to Grow Children’s Center, focused on how “the math doesn’t add up,” with child care being unaffordable while centers struggle to make payroll, retain staff, and provide quality care. And Walt Rowen, President of Susquehanna Glass Co. and Co-Chair of Small Business for America’s Future, noted the strain on small businesses when employees lack stability, calling child care a necessary investment.

Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) noted in her comments that families with low income and racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately impacted, making this a moral and ethical issue as well as an economic issue.

Ranking Member Kennedy (R-LA) signaled some bipartisan common ground, acknowledging the untenable high costs and asking for solutions; however, he also opposed the proposed fixes in the Build Back Better legislation and did not go so far as to agree with a federal fix.