A working mom gave lawmakers a raw reminder on Wednesday of the importance of child care and paid leave, tearing up as she described her struggle to care for her autistic son.
Tori Snyder, a Pittsburgh mother to a 4 1/2-year-old boy named Braxton, was asked at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing about the difficulties of pulling together a patchwork of child care and other resources as a small business owner.
“I have to make sure that I secure contract after contract, often taking more on than necessary because of the fear and the worry that there’s not going to be enough money,” Snyder told the lawmakers. “What if one contract ends? What if we hit another [COVID-19] episode? What if we hit a recession?”
She said she would like to go back to working a more stable corporate job with good benefits, but that often those jobs don’t allow the flexibility she needs.
“As someone who’s dedicated 15 years to corporate America, I’m more than happy to be that reliable and accountable person. But my human, my son? He doesn’t have anyone else to take care of him” she said, beginning to tear up.
“If I have to choose between working 40 hours to have health benefits or having to work 90 hours in my small business around my son’s schedule in order to be there for him, making sure he can access the services that he needs, I’ll deal with the stress every day,” she continued. “And that’s why the paid leave for all is so important.”
Democrats have pushed for broader child care and paid leave, but the effort stalled under Republican opposition.
Democrats argued such legislation would help parents like Snyder, who is a member of the advocacy group MomsRising, which focuses on issues of concern to women, mothers and families.
According to Snyder’s written testimony, her business, Self-Care Senorita, offers presentations on self-care and productivity. Snyder also works as a business coach and diversity, equity and inclusion consultant.
In her testimony, Snyder said she had worked in the film industry for several years but left it just before the onset of the COVID pandemic because of unpredictable hours. A new venture, contracting for non-profit organizations, foundered because of the pandemic, she said.
“A lot of single moms are isolated and alone, trying to handle everything ourselves,” Snyder said. “We are burned out and exhausted, overworked and overtired. And we’re struggling even more now because it’s so expensive to feed our kids and put gas in our cars. With paid leave, I would know that if I have to take a day off, we won’t go into debt.”
Republicans on the committee said they worried paid leave for all would be cumbersome for businesses by using a one-size-fits-all approach, and would end up as a corporate giveaway.
Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-Ariz.) said if Democrats were serious about working with Republicans on child care and leave issues, they would huddle with them and economists from both sides to come up with ideas.
“Instead we’ve become nothing but sort of political talking points for the next video clip for the next election,” Schweikert said. “And we’re better than that.”
The Build Back Better Act passed by the House 2021 would have provided free child care for kids under the age of six, as well as free universal pre-school services. It also would have provided up to four weeks of paid family and medical leave annually.
It passed the House on a 220-213 vote, with no Republicans voting in favor.