ICYMI: “How Patty Murray Used Her Gavel to Win $1 Billion for Child Care”

ICYMI: Senator Murray’s Statement on Funding Boost for Child Care, Pre-K

Washington, D.C. — In case you missed it: in this year’s funding bills, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured $1 billion more for our nation’s primary child care program and for Head Start, in addition to a variety of steps across government programs to help tackle the growing child care crisis that is crunching families, forcing child care workers to leave their profession, straining businesses, and holding our entire economy back.

Here’s a sampling of the coverage and what leading advocates are saying:

New York Times: How Patty Murray Used Her Gavel to Win $1 Billion for Child Care

A self-described “mom in tennis shoes,” now the Senate Appropriations Committee leader, managed to win an increase in child care subsidies in a spending freeze.

  • “Senator Patty Murray got inspired to enter politics when a male state legislator derided her efforts to fight budget cuts to early education programs, calling her ‘just a mom in tennis shoes’ — a remark she would proudly adopt as her campaign slogan.”
  • “So it came as little surprise that more than 40 years later, Ms. Murray, now the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, managed to emerge from excruciating negotiations over funding the federal government with a big victory aimed at children and families. Tucked into the $1.2 trillion spending law Congress cleared last week was an additional $1 billion for a single year for child care and early education programs.”
  • “Previous leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful perches in Congress, have historically used their pens to steer funding to their own priorities… For Ms. Murray, it is child care — an issue that historically has had few powerful constituencies on Capitol Hill. It is the continuation of decades of work aimed at strengthening families’ access to affordable child care.”
  • “Since 2015, when Ms. Murray took over as the top Democrat on the labor and health spending panel, and with Ms. DeLauro leading the appropriations subcommittee in the House, funding for child care and Head Start has increased by more than 250 percent, or $6.3 billion.”
  • “Separately, Ms. Murray secured $277 million in this year’s military construction funding bill to establish six new child development centers on installations to provide military families with more child care options — and added $60 million more than the Biden administration requested to design additional child development centers.”
  • “Congressional leaders will soon begin negotiating the spending bills due this fall to fund the government next year. For Ms. Murray, the increases to child care funding secured this month are just the beginning. ‘To me, this comes from my gut. I just fundamentally believe this is an issue we have to deal with,’ Ms. Murray said. ‘I’m hoping that globally, with this appropriations bill, our country accepts that child care is something we have to focus on if we all want to be a better nation.’”

Politico: Congressional appropriators tee up additional child care dollars

  • “The sweeping package includes a combined $1 billion increase in funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant and Head Start. The boost to CCDBG, the largest source of federal child care money, would bring funds to $8.75 billion. Head Start, which provides free early education and health services to high-need children, would be funded at $12.3 billion, a $275 million increase. The initial House Republican proposal for fiscal 2024 called for flat funding for CCDBG and a spending cut for Head Start.”
  • “While the Department of Health and Human Services oversees several early childhood education programs, investments in early learning across several federal agencies are tucked in the spending deal: Defense Department: The DOD funding bill includes a $66.5 million increase in funding to support universal pre-K for service member families. Education Department: The bill would fund the department’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School program that helps student parents access child care on their college campus. The $75 million spelled out in the bill follows the initial House Republican proposal that would have eliminated the program.”

Child Care Aware of America: Appropriations Bill Provides Unprecedented Child Care Funding

“The final bill includes good news for our nation’s children, families and communities, adding $1 billion to child care and early learning over fiscal year 2023. These investments would improve affordability and access to child care while advancing compensation and supports for child care providers through investments in the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Head Start.”

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO of MomsRising: “This billion dollars translates into more child care for moms with families, allowing them to fully participate in the workforce, greatly benefiting our communities and our economy. It also translates into stable, affordable, high-quality child care, that lowers the overall cost burden that families are facing. …. Patty Murray has never shied away from embracing that she is a mom as a basic part of her résumé. That’s huge. She’s stepped into an area where there is a significant maternal wall, and she has succeeded. And as she’s succeeded, she’s lifted all other moms.”

Julie Kashen, Director of Women’s Economic Justice at The Century Foundation: “@PattyMurray is fighting the good fights and winning! Having a ‘mom in tennis shoes’ leading the appropriations committee is good for children, families & communities. Our economy relies on parents & parents rely on child care.”

National Head Start Association (NHSA): “We are grateful to both Congress and the Biden Administration for recognizing the significant role Head Start plays in supporting our country’s most vulnerable children and families. We thank them for their meaningful work to increase funding for Head Start during this difficult and contentious congressional budget cycle,” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci.

National Women’s Law Center (NWLC): “We’re thrilled that our Congressional champions secured an additional $1 billion to help lower child care costs for families and strengthen Head Start programs,” said NWLC President and CEO Fatima Goss Graves.

First Five Years Fund (FFYF): “Appropriators continue to face a tough fiscal environment, and we celebrate the news that the Committee was able to come together to increase funding for programs that support millions of Americans,” FFYF Executive Director Sarah Rittling said.

Zero to Three: “Families across the nation continue to face long waitlists and struggle to pay for child care. We thank @PattyMurry and @RosaDeLauro for being #BabyChampions for #ChildCare in the budget deal.”


Senator Murray secured new funding and steps to help families get child care and pre-K across fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills, including:

Lowering Child Care Costs for Families

Notably, in this year’s HHS funding bill, Senator Murray secured a combined $1 billion increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)—our nation’s primary child care program—and for Head Start, which provides no cost early learning services for eligible families nationwide. The bill provides $8.75 billion—a $725 million, or 9%, increase over fiscal year 2023—for CCDBG to help more families afford child care. It also includes $12.3 billion—a $275 million increase over fiscal year 2023—for Head Start to support and retain the teachers and staff the program needs to continue serving families nationwide.

Strengthening funding for CCDBG and Head Start to help families find and afford high-quality child care and early learning options has been a top priority for Senator Murray as the top Democrat on the LHHS subcommittee from 2015 through 2022 and now as Senate Appropriations Committee Chair. Senator Murray has been instrumental in increasing funding for CCDBG by 48% since fiscal year 2021 and more than tripling funding over the last seven years.

Expanding Child Care Options for Military Families

In this year’s defense funding bill, Senator Murray secured $167 million to fully fund the Department of Defense’s (DOD) child care initiatives. This includes a $66.5 million increase in funding over fiscal year 2023 to support universal, full-day pre-K, which will double enrollment from 1,810 to 3,625 children of servicemembers. It also includes new resources to recruit, support, and retain staff at DOD’s child development centers—including $33 million to provide a 50% discount for the first child of center staff. It also invests an additional $20 million above the budget request in the renovation and repair of DOD’s child development centers.

Separately, Senator Murray secured $277 million in this year’s military construction funding bill to establish six new child development centers on installations to provide military families with more child care options—and she secured $59.5 million above the President’s budget request for the design of additional child development centers. Senator Murray authorized dedicated funding for the construction of child care facilities on military bases in 2019 through the NDAA and has delivered strong funding to support child care for servicemembers since then.

Protecting Child Care Options for Parents Pursuing a Higher Education

In this year’s HHS funding bill, Senator Murray protected full funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, which helps low-income parents pursue a higher education by supporting campus-based child care programs. The bill provides $75 million for the program—protecting existing funding and rejecting House Republicans’ proposal to eliminate the program altogether.

Eliminating Barriers for Veterans in Need of Child Care While Getting Care

In this year’s Veterans Affairs funding bill, Senator Murray secured $23 million to expand the successful Child Care Pilot Program she established in 2010, which helps eliminate barriers for veterans in need of child care while attending medical appointments.

Easing Child Care Barriers for Parents Working in Congress

In this year’s legislative branch funding bill, Senator Murray secured language authorizing Senate offices to—for the first time—use their existing budgets to provide child care subsidies to staff to better ensure working parents can serve their communities by working in Congress.


Senator Murray has led the fight to tackle the child care crisis in Congress—using every tool at her disposal to make progress for families as the top Democrat on the HELP Committee, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations LHHS Subcommittee, and now as Chair of the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senator Murray has secured significant year-over-year increases for CCDBG to help more families afford child care. She was instrumental in ensuring Congress took action when the COVID pandemic forced the child care sector to the brink of collapse. She authored the stabilization provisions in the American Rescue Plan alongside Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) and helped secure a historic $24 billion in stabilization funds and an additional $15 billion for CCDBG in the legislation. The stabilization funds kept over 220,000 child care providers across the country afloat, sustaining child care for up to 10 million children as our country recovered from the pandemic. One third of child care providers who received a stabilization grant said their child care program would have closed permanently without the grants. She introduced legislation and pushed to extend the stabilization grants—and has continued to push to deliver supplemental funding to address the child care crisis, particularly given the tight fiscal constraints the Fiscal Responsibility Act has imposed on annual appropriations.

Critically, Senator Murray has introduced and continues working to build the support needed to pass her Child Care for Working Families Act, comprehensive legislation to tackle the child care crisis and ensure families across America can find and afford the high-quality child care they need. The legislation, which became the basis for President Biden’s child care plan in 2020 and his Build Back Better proposal, would ensure that child care is affordable and accessible for working families nationwide. The typical family would pay about $10 a day for child care under her plan.

Senator Murray knows the challenges that working parents face. She has spent her career advocating for parents, first running for office after a male legislator in Olympia told her she couldn’t make a difference in trying to save her kids’ preschool program because she was, “just a mom in tennis shoes.” Since being elected to the U.S. Senate, she has been a leading voice on child care and early childhood education in Congress, and has met constantly with parents from across Washington state to bring their stories and concerns back with her to the other Washington.