Being a working parent has never been easy, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a Senator. But, with COVID-19 halting in-person child care and schooling, the balancing act has become nearly impossible for many American families.
The devastating repercussions of a slow reopening have been particularly felt by women. Just last month, 275,000 women dropped out of the labor force. That means over a quarter million women are no longer employed or seeking employment. The current strain on working mothers is historic; right now, women’s participation in the workforce is at a 33-year low.
At a time when working parents need support the most, the Senate is at a standstill. The second impeachment trial has taken valuable time away from serving constituents and prevented us from doing the job Senators are sent to Washington to do. In exchange, working parents are getting the one thing they didn’t ask for—a week-long exercise in hyperpartisanship.
Meanwhile on the other side of Capitol Hill, the House’s Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act threatens the livelihoods of those who earn money outside the bounds of a typical 9 to 5 job. Whether a primary or supplemental income source, opportunities in the gig economy provide flexible employment options that increase earning power.
Gig employment opportunities empower American workers, but some still criticize those who celebrate the side-hustle. For instance, proponents of the PRO Act lectured Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton following her participation in a Super Bowl ad promoting “5 to 9” work.
Dolly may have faced backlash, but she has it right. Eliminating employment opportunities that 10.6 million people rely on would only serve to undermine our already sluggish economic recovery. Restricting this kind of economic freedom is the opposite of what Tennesseans, and all Americans, need.
The work of the Senate may be on hold, but working parents know all too well that the American people don’t have that same luxury. I take my role as a juror in the impeachment trial seriously. Still, I look forward to a swift and just resolution so that the Senate can get back to work—providing targeted COVID relief, ensuring a strong economic recovery, and supporting the immediate needs of working parents.