WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday to advance affordable caregiving and support workers as the White House sharpens its pitch to voters ahead of an expected re-election announcement.
“The actions we are taking today are about dignity, security, working families, caregivers all across the country,” Biden said at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. “And they’re good for the economy, as well.”
He called the issue “fundamental to who we are as nation.”
The order includes more than 50 directives to Cabinet-level agencies to take steps toward fixing the nation’s child care and long-term care system, White House officials said in a call with reporters previewing the actions.
“Too many families are struggling to afford or access high-quality care, and too many care workers are struggling to make a living doing this critically important work,” Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice said. “The president’s not going to wait to take action to address our nation’s care crisis.”
The order aims to improve transparency and access for home care services, including for veterans, while boosting industry standards and expanding areas of federal coverage. It also seeks to make child care cheaper.
Biden to reveal new policies for affordable child careApril 18, 202303:40
Biden has pressed for more affordable child care solutions since he took office and, before that, on the campaign trail. Improving conditions for caregivers was also a component of his 2020 campaign, part of a caregiving agenda that called for investing $775 billion over 10 years.
In his 2024 budget, Biden proposed $600 billion in spending on child care and early education, revisiting provisions that fell away during negotiations with Congress.
But persuading Congress to allocate more funding to child care has not been easy as inflationary pressures continue to weigh on the economy.
“This is a case where the president is working hard on the investment angle, has worked hard with Congress — that has not worked out quite as well,” a senior administration official said on the call with reporters. “He is now focused on doing everything he can.”
Biden pitched the order as a win for American workers “and good for business as well.”
“The executive order doesn’t require any new spending: It’s about making sure taxpayers get the best value for the investments they already pay,” he said.
Biden has said he intends to run for re-election next year, a decision likely to renew attention on the promises he made to voters in 2020.
“I can honestly say I’ve never been more optimistic about the future,” Biden said Tuesday, adding, “Let’s finish the job.”
Rice said Biden would continue to press Congress to advance the funding laid out in his budget proposal.
Tuesday's executive order will lay out a clear set of policy priorities while looking to improve existing practices, an aide who worked on developing the order said on the call.
The White House downplayed Biden’s struggle to unlock new federal funding for child care and caregivers, even as he faces obstacles in Congress.
“It’s not so much about how many dollars are unlocked. It’s how do we take best advantage of the federal dollars that have already been spent,” another senior administration official said.
Republicans control the House and are unlikely to back Biden’s spending proposals. In recent weeks, the two sides have escalated their standoff over the debt limit, with Biden accusing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Monday of “brinkmanship.”
Tuesday, Biden criticized a speech McCarthy gave at the New York Stock Exchange, saying he had “threatened to become the first speaker default on our national debt … which would throw us in a gigantic recession and beyond, unless he gets what he wants in the budget.”
Biden has said he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling.
On child care, the White House has argued that lack of access to affordable care has economic repercussions.
Heather Boushey, a Council of Economic Advisers member and the chief economist of Biden's Invest in America Cabinet, said on the call that the cost of child and home care is increasing, preventing greater participation in the workforce by women.
An analysis by the Boston Consulting Group forecasts gross domestic product losses “of nearly $300 billion per year if the United States fails to address these critical care infrastructure challenges,” Boushey said.
“What we know is that the care workforce supports the American workforce. And this agenda is not only good for families; it’s good for the economy,” she added.