Since the new Congress officially gaveled into session six months ago, great strides have been made in providing relief to the people and businesses in Iowa who needed it most this year, and the data shows the aid is really helping.
The relief checks I voted to see distributed this winter helped Americans in need buy food and pay household bills. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the percentage of families with children experiencing food shortages fell 42% from earlier this year, and fewer folks reported struggling with financial anxiety and depression.
Now that we’re almost halfway through the year, with unemployment decreasing and nearly half of all Iowans fully vaccinated against COVID-19, I’m turning my attention to securing the long-term investments that will continue to help Iowans and fix systemic issues that this past year exposed.
I have been traveling across southwest Iowa a lot the past couple of weeks, and I’ve heard concerns from working families, business owners, community leaders and everyday Iowans.
One of the most consistent issues that folks have raised with me is the dire position that working parents continue to be in while lacking access to affordable child care — especially for folks working second and third shifts or folks living in the 25% of our state where not even one child care provider is available.
I’ve talked to business owners who buy and sell goods online and farmers who need a reliable wireless internet connection to run their operations. They’ve told me they waste valuable time and money trying to connect to outdated systems that can’t keep up with modern technology.
What I told them is what I commit to you here: broadband and child care represent two of the most critical infrastructure deficiencies we have in Iowa, and I’m going to fight to see investments to change that in Congress this year.
I’ve also met with Iowans who are caring for their aging parents around the clock while also trying to care for their own children because they can’t afford any other options.
Caring for a parent shouldn’t break your budget — and that’s why this month I introduced the Americans Giving Care to Elders (AGE) Act to provide tax credits that’ll help offset those costs.
Not only do we need to make investments like these to ensure folks can make ends meet while caring for their family, but we also need to ensure folks are trained for good-paying jobs.
Earlier this year, I joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce the Investing in American Workers Act to incentivize businesses to invest in the skills training and apprenticeship programs that can give Iowans a direct path to a good-paying job.
I know that investing in these skilled trade programs and expanding technical education programs for Iowans will support the continued success of small and mid-size businesses, and I believe it’s key to ensuring the success of Iowa’s small towns.
Six months ago, Iowa’s daily COVID-19 cases numbered in the thousands and families were struggling. Now — with the help of the relief we delivered in the first quarter of this Congress — folks are more financially secure thanks to direct relief programs and stimulus payments, businesses are reopened, multiple COVID-19 vaccines are widely available and daily life is beginning to feel much closer to normal.
But as we feel this normalcy return, I will not be letting up in my fight to support caregivers, expand child care, invest in skills training and American workers and make the daily lives of Iowans better.
Rep. Cindy Axne of West Des Moines represents Iowa’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.