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As celebrities promote a "Marshall Plan for Moms," efforts to help parents gain steam in Washington

"Marshall Plan for Moms" seeks stimulus payments for mothers
"Marshall Plan for Moms" seeks stimulus payments for mothers 02:07

As the coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of women out of the workforce, including many affected by a lack of childcare at home, efforts to support moms are gaining traction. Now a group of prominent men are throwing their support behind a push to help them. 

On Thursday, 50 men signed a letter in the Washington Post calling on Congress to support the so-called "Marshall Plan for Moms." The group, many of whom are fathers, includes basketball player Steph Curry, actors Don Cheadle and Colin Farrell, basketball coach Doc Rivers, former NFL star Victor Cruz and New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. They're pushing for direct payments for mothers, paid parental leave, affordable child care and pay equity.

Their full-page push comes as lawmakers have been campaigning for several pieces of legislation that promote parent-friendly policies like paid leave and child tax credits. The Marshall Plan for Moms — a reference to a program that helped rebuild Europe after World War II — calls for investments for moms who have been crushed under the burden of unpaid labor at home. It also includes provisions to help safely reopen schools full time and ensure women will have jobs when they can go back to work.

"When more than 30 years of progress for women in the workforce can be erased in 9 months, the underlying system is broken," the letter, displayed as a full-page ad, reads. "It's time to create a new structure that works for women, that respects and values their labor. Men have a role to play." 

More than 2 million women have exited the workforce since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to the National Women's Law Center. Vice President Kamala Harris recently called the situation a "national emergency." And a new working paper by the Federal Reserve of San Francisco suggests if mothers experienced recovery similar to women without children, approximately 700,000 more women would have been in the workforce in December. 

"Mothers are facing the brunt of this pandemic, and it is on all of us to step up and ensure that we are providing them with the relief and compensation they deserve," said Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, who signed the letter. His Craig Newmark Philanthropies is also throwing financial support behind the effort.

Last month, a group of 50 prominent women backed the plan with a letter in the New York Times calling for leaders to help moms slammed by the pandemic. Led by Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani, advocates included Eva Longoria, Julianne Moore, Charlize Theron, activist Tarana Burke and Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd. 

"This is a national crisis that requires bold solutions — we can't afford anything less," said Saujani.

Two weeks ago, Democratic New York Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced the Marshall Plan for Moms in the House. The legislation calls for measures to help mothers severely impacted by the coronavirus, including paid leave, investments to make sure child care programs do not close permanently and can reopen, expanded unemployment benefits and strengthened tax credits, and more. 

"Moms throughout America are screaming out for help," Meng said in a statement at the time.

Democrats in the House are on track to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill by the end of the week. The legislation includes multiple components to help reopen schools and support people economically such as provide $1,400 checks, temporarily expand the child tax credit to $3,000 with monthly installments and increase supplemental unemployment benefits to $400. 

Democrats have also introduced legislation to make the expanded child tax credits permanent. At the same time, Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah recently unveiled his own proposal for monthly checks, but the effort to provide continued payments for children has not gone without criticism from some of his own GOP colleagues.   

In a Wednesday hearing in Washington, D.C., Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell avoided talking directly about the coronavirus relief package, leaving policy decisions to Congress, but took the unusual step of discussing affordable childcare.

"I will say, many other countries, our peers, our competitors, advanced democracy economies have a more built up function for childcare and they wind up having substantially higher labor force participation among women," Powell said. "We used to lead the world in female labor force participation a quarter century ago, and we no longer do — and it may just be that those policies have put us behind."

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