Good morning, Chairwoman Woolsey, Ranking Member Price, members of the Subcommittee
and my distinguished fellow panelists. Thank you for inviting us to talk about the policies this
nation’s workers urgently need.
I am Debra Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, a non-profit,
non-partisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality
health care, and policies that help workers meet the dual demands of work and family. I am here
to testify in support of the Healthy Families Act and the FIRST Act, groundbreaking pieces of
legislation that are tremendously important to working people across the nation. Congress
should waste no time in passing these bills, especially at a time when working families are
overwhelmed by personal economic crises caused by the recession.
The historic pace at which our economy is shedding jobs is devastating millions of working
families — shaking the financial ground beneath their feet. Last week, the unemployment rate
rose to 9.4 percent — the highest level since 1983. The unemployment rate for African
Americans and Hispanics is even higher.
That means millions of families that once relied on two incomes are struggling to manage on one
income, or no income at all. Access to employer-provided health insurance has declined, and
family wealth is disappearing at a record pace. More »