Opinion

Work for America’s families this Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate family, whether it is being a daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt or grandmother.

Serving Washington in Congress has enabled me to meet some amazing women. It has also made me proud of the tremendous impact women are having in our communities, on our economy and within our families.

Did you know:

• women manage 83 percent of the household income;

•?women-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of our economy;

•?women are responsible for 85 percent of all purchasing of goods and services in the United States;

•?women make about 80 percent of the health care decisions for their families and have the lead responsibility for caring for sick family members; and,

• there are 5 million more women than men in the United States?

This year, I am celebrating my second Mother’s Day as a mom, and I can tell you it has given me a renewed perspective on the issues that come before me in Congress. That is why I have worked with other women in Congress to put together a plan to give greater freedom to working women and our families.

Our plan, called “Assuring Freedom for America’s Families,” is focused on five main areas:

First, Assuring More Time and Money for America’s Families. One of the biggest struggles we face is how to balance work and family. Being a new mom, I struggle with it every day.

That is why our plan is working to make the work week more flexible so you can put in the time you need to get the job done, but also make sure you can make the school play or take care of an elderly parent.

Flexibility isn’t the only concern families have — many people are struggling with the high cost of gas and food. That’s why I believe a comprehensive energy policy — providing America’s energy needs with American resources —?is key to securing America’s economic edge.

Our Washington economy needs an affordable source of energy, but the high cost of fuel is making it harder for farmers to fill their tractors, businesses to ship their products and families to get to school and work.

Second, Assuring Health Care and Retirement Security for America’s Families. Today, Americans will change jobs numerous times during their career. Women move from job to job and in and out of the labor market much more frequently than men.

That is why we need a benefit system — from health care to retirement — that is more portable.

Under our plan, people will be able to take their benefits from job to job, we will provide greater access to health care by allowing employers to cross state lines to offer care, we encourage healthy lifestyles and make sure our nursing homes are taking care of our seniors.

Third, Protect America’s kids. We need to make sure our kids are protected in our neighborhoods and when they are on the Internet.

Our plan aims to crack down on gang activity in our communities. It also includes legislation I introduced to increase penalties for those who use the Internet to prey on children and it provides health care for those kids who need it most.

Fourth, Assuring Education Access for America’s Families. As the first in my family to graduate from college, I know a good education is the doorway to success and a critical part of making our country more competitive in a global economy.

Unfortunately, too many of our kids are not receiving the education they need. Our plan aims to make college more affordable to families, works to ensure every child can read and write, and holds our schools more accountable.

Our final point is Supporting Our Military Families. Our nation’s most solemn duties are to take care of our troops, veterans, and their families and to protect the homeland. We need to do more to honor the sacrifices of those who serve.

It is critical we continue to fight and win the war on terror, and that we support our men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and their families.

It’s important to secure our country in every aspect — from military security to financial security — and Mother’s Day is a great time to reflect on our duty to ensure that security.

You know, I’m often asked how being a mother changed my life and changed my priorities. It’s all been for the better.

I have a new passion and a new energy for everything that I do. I am thankful God blessed me and my husband with our son.

I look forward to celebrating Mother’s Day with them, and I wish you and your mother a happy Mother’s Day as well.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers represents eastern Washington state

in the U.S. Congress

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