Biden to Sign Executive Order That Aims to Make Child Care Cheaper

WASHINGTON — President Biden plans to sign an executive order on Tuesday directing federal agencies to find ways to make child care cheaper and more accessible, seeking to make progress on a promise he made that stalled in his first two years in office.

White House officials, who previewed the order Monday evening, described it as the most sweeping effort by any president to streamline the delivery of child care.

“The child care and long-term care systems in this country just don’t work well,” said Susan E. Rice, the director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. “The order includes more than 50 directives to nearly every agency to take action on fixing our child care and long-term care system.”

Ms. Rice said the order would direct some agencies to lower co-pays for services. Other provisions will seek to make Medicare and Medicaid dollars go further. Still others will examine new ways to improve care for veterans and Native American tribes.

She said the order “marshals the full resources of the federal government” to improve access to high-quality, affordable care.

But the order does not deliver on the goal Mr. Biden himself identified at the beginning of his presidency, when he proposed $225 billion to fully cover child care for low-income Americans and an additional $200 billion for universal preschool.

Those proposals failed to win support in Congress, and Mr. Biden abandoned them in favor of plans to bolster infrastructure and environmental spending.

Now, as the president prepares to announce his re-election campaign, he is seeking to make progress on some big promises that have so far gone unfulfilled. In her remarks on Monday, Ms. Rice said Mr. Biden had not given up on winning approval for far greater government spending on child care.

“We need to make serious investments,” she said, noting that Mr. Biden’s current budget would add billions of dollars of child care spending. “But in the meantime, we’re going to do everything we can to increase access to care and support care workers and family caregivers.”

Other administration officials who worked on developing the executive order said it was clear that Congress — where Republicans control the House — was unlikely to embrace the president’s spending proposals.

One official said the president’s attempts to persuade lawmakers had not been as effective as the administration had hoped. But the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because the president had not yet signed the order, said not everything required billions in new funding.

Some of the directives in Mr. Biden’s new order will not immediately produce results. One, for example, directs the Department of Health and Human Services “to consider issuing several regulations and guidance documents to improve the quality of home care jobs.” Officials said it would take time for those regulations to be developed, drafted and enacted.

Other provisions might come more quickly, they said. The Department of Veterans Affairs is “directed to consider expanding its veteran directed care program” to all of its medical centers. That program helps veterans hire personal care assistance.

Mr. Biden is scheduled to sign the executive order in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday afternoon.

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