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Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s red line on budget talks: ‘We must have a child care bill’

Politics

Watch Senator Warren’s full interview on Newsmakers or at the bottom of this story.

DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday she remains confident Democrats in Congress will soon reach agreement on a far-reaching budget bill despite significant disagreements, while making clear she has no higher priority than additional funding for child care.

In a wide-ranging interview with 12 News at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth ahead of a town hall Wednesday night, the second-term Massachusetts Democrat said there are a host of issues she wants to see tackled in the final budget reconciliation plan, including expanding Medicare and tackling climate change. But child care tops the list.

“We must have a child care bill,” Warren said. “And we must have a child care bill so that parents have access, so that it is affordable, and so that it is high quality.” She added that one in four women who are currently out of the workforce say the reason is a lack of child care.

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are racing to complete negotiations over the $3.5 trillion budget plan put forward by President Biden by the end of this month. Party leaders are caught between progressives who say want the bill to be even bigger and moderates who have signaled they may not support anywhere near that much spending.

“Look, that’s the whole point — we are negotiating, we are talking, people are pushing their issues,” Warren said.

As for concerns about the cost of the plan, Warren said, “I believe we should pay for this.” She offered three proposals that she said would provide enough funding to cover the $3.5 trillion tab: a wealth tax on the richest households; a new minimum corporate tax on profits over $100 million; and stepped-up enforcement resources for the IRS.

“When a giant corporation like Amazon stands up and says to its shareholders, says to the public, they made $11 billion in profits last year and turned around and paid zero in taxes — that is wrong,” she said.

Warren also reflected during the interview on the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

A member of the Armed Services Committee since 2017, she expressed surprise at how quickly the Afghan army disintegrated, and frustration about the answers she had gotten from Pentagon leaders when she grilled them about the conflict over the years.

Looking ahead to upcoming hearings about Afghanistan that Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed has said he plans to hold, Warren said, “I want to understand what it is that our generals weren’t watching over the last 20 years that would cause this to be such a surprise.”

“I had so many generals tell me, over and over and over for years now, that we were turning the corner in Afghanistan that it just felt like we were going in a circle,” she said. “And that’s the part that was really frustrating to me. Nobody was ever held accountable. Nobody ever got dragged back in to say, wait a minute, you were the guy that was here two years ago saying we turned the corner.”

Warren made an unsuccessful bid for president in 2020, and is currently serving her second six-year term in the Senate. She said she plans to seek re-election in 2024.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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