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Rep. Nancy Mace warns of "staggering" challenges Congress faces as U.S. heads toward "child care cliff"

Republican Rep. Nancy Mace warned of the "staggering challenge" Congress faces in finding a solution to the high cost of child care as pandemic-era federal funding is set to expire within weeks, a situation being referred to as the "child care cliff." 

The 2021 American Rescue Plan allocated nearly $40 billon to the child care industry to help providers stay open during the pandemic. With that funding set to expire on Sept. 30, 70,000 child care programs could close and more than 3 million children could lose their child care spots, according to The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. Millions of parents could be impacted — and weaken the labor market if they are forced out of the workforce. 

Mace and Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna recently launched the Congressional Bipartisan Affordable Childcare Caucus to address the high cost of child care. 

"We talk about 4-year-old pre-K. We talk about making sure that parents have the freedom and the resources to have child care options — affordable child care options," Mace told "Face the Nation" on Sunday. 

"I approach it from a less-government-regulation standpoint," she said. "We have some really crazy regulations in this country. Some places say you have to have a four-year college degree. Well, that certainly makes it harder to find child care workers, increases in cost because of it. Other places say well, if you're certified in one state, it's not reciprocal in another." 

Mace said rolling back smaller regulations that could pass the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate would be a "good start" to making a "big difference." 

"It's not going to be easy to do some large comprehensive spending package," she said. "It's going to have difficulty going through [the House and Senate], so I'm looking for the small parts, big difference here policy-wise." 

Khanna told "Face the Nation" they have an agreement on more training, flexibility and higher pay for child care workers, as well as "some government policy support for child care." 

"The average cost of a family for child care is $10,000 a year, and 85% of women say that they can't work because of child care issues, if they're leaving the workforce," Khanna said. "So we need a short-term solution, which is continuation of some of the grants and funding the child care stabilization act, so we don't have this cliff and that the president signs. And then we need a long-term solution to reduce the cost to families." 

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