U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (C) plays bingo with children in a classroom during a visit to the Ben Samuels Children's Center at Montclair State University in Little Falls, N.J., on Friday. Photo by Justin Lane/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris called for funding for child care to be included in the next federal spending bill during a trip to New Jersey on Friday.
Harris participated in a roundtable discussion with Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., and five educators at the Ben Samuels Children's Center at Montclair State University in Little Falls.
"Our nation is strongest when everyone is able to participate," Harris said, according to NJ.com. "This is fundamentally what the issue is about when it comes to working parents."
Democrats are grappling with trimming the $3.5 trillion spending bill to appeal to moderates in the party. The Build Back Better proposal includes provisions for child care along with community college, universal pre-K, dental benefits for senior citizens and paid family leave.
Harris, who visited a classroom and spoke with children during the visit, said the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on working women, with 2 million leaving the workforce.
"The pandemic clobbered us," Murphy, who is running for re-election in November, agreed. "It clobbered families. It especially clobbered working moms."
Harris also promoted COVID-19 vaccinations on Friday and toured a vaccination center at Essex County College in Newark.
She said she is heartbroken over stories of people dying because they won't get vaccinated and urged more people to get the shot.
"It will save your life," she said. "It's free. It's safe. And it's about you and everybody around you."
Harris thanked healthcare workers at the site.
"You guys are holding it down, and you've been holding it down," she said, according to WABC-TV. "So thank you all. It means so much. I know it feels endless, but it's not. There will be an end to this."
The trip comes a day after President Joe Biden touted vaccine mandates during a trip to Chicago.
Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller was among those who greeted the vice president when she arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport.
"It was my pleasure to greet the vice president this morning and offer my support as we remain laser-focused on increasing vaccinations and making sure the entire Build Back Better agenda gets over the finish line," Spiller said, according to Montclair Local. "It's time to make critical investments in America."