Reconciliation negotiations test the new weight of caregiver advocates

Members of the Paid Leave for All launched a war room shortly after the pandemic, although many are full-time caregivers. “And we’ve kind of been on all cylinders since,” she said.

For Poo, the spotlight on care issues is a “game-changing moment” for the country.

Prior to last year, “I think most people really thought caregiving was a personal burden and a responsibility primarily for women in the family,” she said. “And if you couldn’t figure it out, if you couldn’t afford it, if you couldn’t handle it, or if you couldn’t find the care you needed for your family, it was considered a failure. staff. “

“We blamed ourselves and I think what we achieved during the pandemic was that we were and are doing our best. And we need public policies and collective solutions to be able to support us, ”she added.

Now, advocates are vowing to leave nothing to chance as the White House and major factions of Democratic lawmakers seek ways to lower the cost of the bill without shedding too much blood.

As negotiations over the bill intensified this summer, advocacy groups have swarmed congressional districts to meet with lawmakers wherever they are, staging letter-writing campaigns, telephone campaigns and tours. by bus, and have purchased six- and seven-digit television, digital and billboard ads.

PL + US has hired a new external lobbying team that includes former high-level Democrat Assistant No. 3 in the Senate, Patty Murray of Washington State. The group also created a political action committee last year and raised funds for at least one vulnerable Senate Democrat, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. Donors to the Paid Family Leave PAC included Melinda Gates, progressive technology investor Swati Mylavarapu and her husband, Nest co-founder Matt Rogers.

The PAC even cashed a check earlier this year from Maggie Cordish, a close friend of Ivanka Trump and one of the main advisers to the former president’s daughter on paid family leave, according to reports on funding for the campaign.

But compared to some of Washington’s lobbying heavyweights, advocates have a relatively paltry lobbying presence in the capital. The National Domestic Workers Alliance re-registered to lobby at the federal level this year for the first time since 2015, and reports show that until the end of September, the group had spent just over $ 400,000. PL + US only spent $ 70,000 until the end of September.

Instead, they’ve rolled out less conventional measures, ranging from working with Instagram influencers to hosting day-long vigils off Capitol Hill and in swing-vote lawmakers’ home states, piloting a plane with a banner reading “Care Can’t Wait” on a football game in West Virginia.

The Service Employees International Union, which is a member of the Care Can’t Wait Coalition, hosted members of Congress and the press to show what a day in the life of caregivers looks like, and announced last month that it doubled the amount of money it spends on TV and digital ads promoting the Reconciliation Bill rose from $ 3.5 million to $ 7 million.

It is also backed up from famous names.

On Wednesday afternoon, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, made a rare political statement, writing to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to warn Democratic leaders that “paid time off should not be a place of compromise or negotiation “.

“No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to care for their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a full paid leave plan) “, she wrote in the letter published by Paid Leave for All.

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