ICYMI: Senator Murray Pushes for Historic Action on Child Care, Community College, and Public Health During Western Washington Stops

ICYMI: Senator Murray Highlights Historic Efforts to Make Child Care Affordable and Accessible at Whatcom Child Care Center – MORE HERE

ICYMI: At Skagit Valley College, Senator Murray Highlights Legislation to Make Community College Tuition Free – MORE HERE

ICYMI: Senator Murray Pushes for Major Federal Investment in Public Health Infrastructure with Seattle Public Health Leaders – MORE HERE

(Washington, D.C.) – Last week, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held events in Northwest Washington and Seattle to discuss some of the major steps to help working families that she’s leading the fight for in Senate Democrats’ Build Back Better budget package.

Senator Murray has been a longtime leader in Congress on making child care and higher education more affordable, as well as on improving public health for people across Washington state. As the Chair of the Senate HELP Committee she is leading negotiations on bold action to tackle these challenges and more as part of Democrats’ Build Back Better agenda. See below details of the events from last week.

Quality, Affordable Child Care for Working Families

On Tuesday, Senator Murray held a roundtable with providers and parents at the Barkley Early Learning Center in Bellingham to hear about the child care crisis in Whatcom County and Washington state. Murray highlighted her efforts to make child care affordable for working families and to finally establish universal pre-k, both top priorities for President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats as a part of the Build Back Better agenda.

“I believe this is our moment to finally build child care and early learning systems that ensure working families can find and afford child care, workers get the pay they deserve, and children can get a quality early education,” said Senator Murray. “My bill means no working family would pay more than seven percent of their income on child care. We would establish universal pre-k for 3 and 4 year olds, improve the quality and supply of child care for all children, and increase pay for child care workers so they make a living wage. This isn’t just good for working families and for child care workers—it’s a smart investment in our children, our future, and our economy.”

Senator Murray speaks with child care providers and parents at the Barkley Early Learning Center in Bellingham, additional photos available for widespread distribution HERE.

Earlier this year, Senator Murray – a former preschool teacher who has fought for decades to push child care as a top priority in Congress — reintroduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, a comprehensive child care and early learning bill to make child care affordable for working families, expand access to preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds, improve the quality of care for all children, and increase compensation and provide training for child care workers. The child care provisions of the Senate’s budget reconciliation package are modeled after Murray’s legislation and Murray, as chair of the Senate education committee, will lead Senate Democrats in crafting final details of the Build Back Better agenda’s child care components.

Tuition Free Community College

Also on Tuesday, Senator Murray held a roundtable with students and staff at Skagit Valley College to hear how tuition-free community college would help them and the local community. In her remarks, Senator Murray highlighted her efforts as chair of the Senate education committee to make community college tuition free as a part of the Build Back Better agenda President Biden and Democrats are working to move through Congress.

“As a former community college instructor at Shoreline College, I know how life-changing higher education can be for Washington state students and families,” said Senator Murray. “Our community colleges put higher education within reach for more people, provide opportunities to help workers gain skills and get jobs, and help students transition to four year colleges. Every student deserves the same opportunity to get a higher education and have a shot at success—but for too long and for too many students across Washington state, pursuing higher education after high school or later in life has been out of reach or puts them in debt. That’s why I’m working hard to ensure that the Build Back Better package makes community college free.”

Senator Murray speaks with students and faculty at Skagit Valley College, additional photos available for widespread distribution HERE.

The current crisis of affordability has led to a steep college enrollment decline, particularly for students with low-incomes and students of color. As of fall 2020, high-minority and high-poverty high schools saw a 9.4 percent and 11.4 percent decline in college enrollment, respectively. And over the last 40 years, we have seen the most growth in jobs requiring higher levels of job preparation, including education and training. Today, 70 percent of jobs are held by people with more than a high school degree. Senator Murray has long fought to make college more affordable for students across the country, and has supported free community college since then-President Obama proposed his plan in 2015. The provisions related to making community college tuition free in the Senate’s Build Back Better budget reconciliation package are modeled after Senator Murray’s recently reintroduced America’s College Promise Act.

Investing in a Strong Public Health Infrastructure

On Wednesday, Senator Murray joined public health officials and experts at University of Washington (UW) Medical Center-Montlake for a press conference on the current state of COVID-19 in Washington state and the importance of making substantial investments in public health in the Senate budget reconciliation package. During her remarks at the medical center, Senator Murray emphasized the critical need for bold investments in public health infrastructure to safeguard Washington state communities against current and future public health emergencies.

“This pandemic is once again pushing our communities to the brink. Our health care system is facing enormous stress as COVID cases continue to rise and the more dangerous Delta variant is filling up hospitals. And misinformation continues to undermine the vaccination efforts we know are critical to ending this crisis,” Senator Murray said. “But we also have to do more than end this pandemic, we have to learn from it, and we have to make sure we are better prepared for the next public health emergency.”

Senator Murray speaks alongside public health leaders at UW Medical Center-Montlake, additional photos available for widespread distribution HERE.

Earlier this year, Senator Murray led 19 of her Democratic Senate colleagues in re-introducing the Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act (PHISLA), legislation that would establish a core public health infrastructure program to strengthen the country’s public health system—including the nation’s ability to respond to the COVID–19 pandemic—through grants to State, territorial, local, and Tribal health departments and increased investments at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bill also supports development and implementation of national public health accreditation. The funding for the program would ramp up over five years to $4.5 billion annually and then remain at that level.