Flag flies next to upper part of Capitol Building

Labor unions, aging services organizations and at least one U.S. senator have turned up the heat on Congress to fund the care economy, which President Biden proposed in his infrastructure plan. The move comes after a bipartisan group of senators reached a compromise agreement Thursday on an infrastructure bill that says nothing about home care. 

LeadingAge, which represents 5,000 nonprofit aging service agencies, on Friday criticized the omission and demanded Congress support spending that would expand services for the aging and higher wages for the workers who care for them.

“Job-creating investments in aging services infrastructure are essential for the long-term health and independence of older Americans, and for our economy and society,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said.

The Biden administration is seeking $400 billion to support Medicaid home-and-community-based services through better wages and training for care workers and expanded support programs for seniors. The administration has been haggling with Republicans over the cost of the entire infrastructure plan, which originally had a price tag topping $1.7 trillion.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) was among the group of five Democrats and five Republicans who worked on the framework for the compromise that modernizes the nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies.

“We are discussing our approach with our respective colleagues and the White House, and remain optimistic that this can lay the groundwork to garner broad support from both parties and meet America’s infrastructure needs,” Portman said in a statement.

But during a webinar Friday with members of the Service Employees International Union, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said any infrastructure package must address the nation’s care economy.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

“Care is essential work,” Warren said. “It is largely done by women and disproportionately by women of color, and for generations this nation has undervalued this necessary work. It is way past time to right this wrong.”