This Sunday, mothers across the country are being recognized for the invaluable contributions they make to their families and communities. I will be spending time with my family and honoring the women who played a special role in my life. Cards and flowers are always thoughtful gestures, but Congress and the Obama administration can do more than that to make life a little easier for working mothers and their families every day.
I've spent a 14-year career in Congress championing women's issues and working to ease the challenges they face balancing family responsibilities with their place in the workforce. In that time there has never been as productive a start as the past 100 days. From the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to expanding children's health insurance, to the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act -- a bill I wrote which has just made it out of Committee - Washington is back on the side of working women and their families now that we have a president who will sign these bills.
President Obama's stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will temper the effects of the current recession for these families right now and over time. Extended unemployment benefits, nutrition assistance programs and tax cuts will bring immediate relief for these families. The recovery act also invests in job creation in education and healthcare that tend to disproportionately employ women.
Challenges facing women to balance work and family are exacerbated in a downturn, which calls for greater workplace flexibility. Simply put, the workplace should be as adaptable as working mothers have become. This is why I am working to pass the Working Families' Flexibility Act -- a bill I have sponsored with Sen. Edward Kennedy which would provide job protection for working parents who request flexible work schedules from their employers. Nearly 80 percent of workers say they would like to have more flexible work options and would use them if there were no negative consequences at work, according to the Families and Work Institute. However, close to 40 percent of workers surveyed believe they would be less likely to advance in their career is they asked for flexibility.
This weekend, families all across America will be thanking mothers for the sacrifices they make -- something we should remember long after the cards are opened and the flowers are put in vases. I urge you to remind lawmakers to remember the commitment mothers make and push us to enact policies that continue our commitment to them.
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