ANKENY, Iowa — First Lady Jill Biden, a frequent travel companion during her husband’s myriad presidential campaigns, has made longer visits to Iowa than the pop-in she made Wednesday.
During a roughly 15-minute appearance — only about half of which Biden spoke for — the first lady stressed the need for the federal government to approve President Joe Biden’s proposals for child care assistance and an extension of the monthly child care tax credit.
Jill Biden spoke at Des Moines Area Community College along with 3rd District Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a fellow Democrat.
“The cost of child care can be crushing,” Biden said during her brief remarks. “As Congresswoman Axne said, this is infrastructure. And investing in working families is the best way that we are going to recover from this pandemic. And we’ve known for years it’s the best way to strengthen our economy and make it resilient for the challenges that we face.”
President Biden’s budget proposal includes a $225 billion investment in making child care more affordable and accessible to more Americans.
He is also proposing an extension of the tax credit for children, which were created in the form of monthly direct payment to families: $300 for each child up to 5 years old, and $250 per month for each child 6 to 17 years old.
Axne’s office said the child tax credit has benefited more than 343,000 Iowa households to the tune of $157 million per month.
“If you have kids, you know how expensive school supplies are. Or you have a trip to urgent care, or a bill for braces,” Jill Biden said. “That extra $300 means you can stop holding your breath and know that you can pay that bill. … When we give families the support they need, they can worry less about scraping by and (instead) think about raising happy, healthy families.”
National Republicans issued a statement on Jill Biden’s trip to Iowa, in which they referred to President Biden’s recent order that all federal employees and private employers with more than 100 workers must require all employees to be vaccinated from COVID-19 or submit to regular testing.
“No visit from Jill Biden will erase the fact that the Biden administration is actively seeking to take away the rights of Hawkeye-staters with their unconstitutional executive orders,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Preya Samsundar said in a statement.
After Wednesday’s event, Axne while talking to reporters acknowledged that in order for President Bidne’s proposal to pass, Democrats must convince not some of their own. Some Democrats in the Senate, where just one defection costs Democrats their majority, have expressed reservations with the full breadth of Biden’s budget proposal.
Axne said she believes those Democrat holdouts can be swayed by noting the estimated $3.5 trillion price tag is spread out over 10 years, and that the proposed spending should be viewed as an investment in the American people similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
“I think we have to do a little bit more work over there on a couple of folks,” Axne said. “This is an investment in our country. It’s an investment in our children. It’s an investment in our families. We have not seen anything like this since the New Deal, about 100 years ago or so. And it’s time that we invest in this country. It’s time we do this again. It’s been a long time. Our working families need it.”
Jill Biden, during her remarks, also touted the budget's proposal for free universal preschool and two years of free community college.