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fter earning degrees from Marymount College and Columbia
University, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has led a life in
public service. In 1990, she was elected to the House of
Representatives and has served in Connecticut’s Third Congressional
District ever since. The YHR sat down with the Congresswoman
virtually to discuss her work during the pandemic.
INTERVIEW
INEQUALITY
ON ALL FRONTS
Rosa DeLauro on protecting communities during Covid and beyond
Interview by Henry Jacob Transcribed by Emilia FernándezJULY 17, 2020
I have lived in New Haven for most of my life. But
only over the past months of quarantine have I have
realized how much I appreciate this city. Often when
I walk through my neighborhood a film reel of memo-
ries plays back in my mind. What memories do you re-
member most fondly from your childhood here? I was
born and raised in Wooster Square. I could tell you today
all the stores that were on Wooster Street when I grew
up; my grandmother’s pastry store, Johnny the butcher,
the candy store with Helen, Libby’s, the chicken market,
Libro’s barber shop. I also know the Dixwell, Newhall-
ville, and Westville communities. I love New Haven and
its wonderful neighborhoods— I’m a townie!
I think in a granular nature. I worked in the city hall. My
mom and dad served on the city council. My mother
was there for 35 years. This city is my life. People often
ask what motivates me to take on issues the way I do.
The answer is simple: I grew up in an Italian, Catholic
household in Wooster Square.
You mentioned the values your Italian-American fa-
mily inculcated in you. How did you blend the lessons
you learned at home with other communities in the
city? I’m from a blue-collar background. My mother
worked in the old sweatshops. My father became an in-
surance salesman even though he finished his schooling
in the seventh grade. Neither wrote omnibus legislation,
but they legislated for their community. I was grounded
in what it meant to be responsive to people and the diver-
sity, no matter who they are.
I will never forget the advice Nicholas Aiello offered me
over breakfast at Howard Johnson’s. He told me to always
remember the people who put me where I am and never
to forget where I come from. These principles have deter-
mined my personal and professional lives.
A
1YALE HISTORICAL REVIEW
1701 Project
Intertwined they are. You have dedicated plenty of
your career to education and public health care. How
has your approach to these issues evolved during CO-
VID? Let me say something about my family and educa-
tion for a moment. My father only went to school until
the seventh grade, but he probably was one of the best-
read people I have known. My father quoted Zola by me-
mory. Also, he taught himself to play the clarinet. He was
first clarinetist in the US Army band.
It was the same with my mother; she started working at
14. She finished her high school education at night. My
mother served for 35 years on the Board of Alders. She
was the longest serving woman, but the longest serving
member, ever. Again, steeped in culture and art. My folks
stood at the Metropolitan Opera House to listen to the
performances, because that's what they could afford.
Because of them, I sit in the orchestra seats at the Met.
My father told me, “You get an education, you'll be
able to make $10,000 a year.” My father made less than
$10,000—that was a goal. My mother had me meet her
every day after school at the dress shop to see the awful
conditions that these women worked in. She said to me,
“Get an education so you don't have to do this.”
You mentioned spaces of cultural edification that you
now enjoy because of your parents. Unfortunately, no
one can use these resources in person today. But access
to these places has been unequal far before COVID-19.
On May 30th, Roxane Gay touched upon this topic in
an article in the New York Times: “The rest of the world
yearns to get back to normal. For black people, normal
is the very thing from which we yearn to be free.” How
do you help to ensure that the U.S. does not return to
this “normal?” This country is reeling from images of
Black men and women senselessly killed by police. This
moment forces us to confront the institutionalized ra-
cism that has brought us here. Every person in power
should question what we can do to end systemic dispari-
ties, create equity in education, and eliminate unfair hi-
ring practices. This country has left far too many people
behind. We need to move forward.
As we pursue the vaccine for COVID-19, we must
confront the virus of the racial injustice. I am in a for-
tunate position because I’ve been on the House Labor,
Health and Human Services, Education, and Related
Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee for 25 years and
the chair for almost two. I'm proud of the work that we
have done to reduce poverty and fix the structures that
impact Black and brown communities. I can go through
chapter and verse, whether we're looking at childcare,
K through 12 and higher education, health care. Labor
HHS has so far provided $280 billion for these programs
in the care packages. If you add the Heroes Act, it's ano-
ther $300 billion.
You have understood the obstacles women face in the
workplace ever since you went to the sweatshops with
yourmotherasachild.Wehavealsodiscussedtheune-
qual effects of the pandemic on communities of color.
How have you addressed gendered as well as racialized
discrimination during the last few months? Women
are on average paid 82 cents. Black women 62 and Latina
54. There is no equal pay for equal work for men and wo-
men in the same job in the United States today.
Take a look at childcare. The Washington Post had a great
article on July 4: [reading from newspaper] “Lack of
childcare slowing recovery. Working parents swamped at
home. Productivity slump pinned on school centers clo-
sures. Childcare crunch triggered by the pandemic has
In addition to her positions on various
subcommittees, Rosa is also the Co-Chair
of the Democratic Steering and Policy
Committee.
Photo courtesy of Congress
ON THE NEXT PAGE
2 ROSA DELAURO
“Every person
in power should
question what we can
do to end systemic
disparities, create
equity in education,
and eliminate unfair
hiring practices.”
Inequality on all fronts: Rosa DeLauro on protecting communities during Covid and beyond
rapidly become a crisis for many workers and companies
that is hindering economic recovery, disproportionately
harming women, and threatening to leave deep scars for
years to come.”
Women have been second class citizens for a long time.
Who are the essential workers? They a re m ostly l ow
paid women. When I came to the Congress, women and
minorities were not included in the clinical trials at the
National Institute of Health. Democratic and Republi-
can women such as Pat Schroeder, Connie Morella, and
Nancy Pelosi, and I changed that.
I know the schedules that work. I measure paid sick days,
paycheck fairness, child care. I put together the agenda
for work-family issues several years ago. We did a bus
tour with the Speaker and other women to broadcast a
message: when women succeed, families succeed, and
America succeeds.
The b us t our y ou m entioned f ollows y our c onti-
nued commitment to constituents since speaking
at Howard Johnson's with Nicholas Aiello. How
have you maintained these relationships with New
Haveners on Zoom? It's hard.
It's unbelievable what has happened to farmers. They
have no childcare or healthcare; they leave their kids at
home or they take their kids to the fields with them; they
cannot socially distance in the fields. But they have to
work—if they don't, their world falls apart.
Many Black and brown communities cannot access the
childcare industry. The C enter f or A merican P rogress
just released a report on these childcare deserts. Not only
are they inaccessible and not affordable, they're not there.
I introduced the Childcare is Essential Act to fill this gap.
The collapse of the childcare industry has major impli-
cations for reopening the economy. We need to pass this
emergency relief. What parents will send their kids to
school if they don’t believe it's safe?
In this bill, we provide money for incarcerated indivi-
duals to be eligible for Pell Grants as well as funds for
HBCUs. We're looking at an oversight in a rigorous way
for anti-racist, culturally responsive education.
I'll also add that in the Heroes bill we have the child tax
credit. The child tax credit is a fully refundable monthly
child tax credit to address the collapse of the economic
security system for kids. The current form leaves behind
one third of all children, most of whom are Black and
brown. I have focused on these areas because I believe
they are critical to getting us back on track economically,
and to leveling the playing field for people in this country.
Things fall apart, but they fall apart unevenly. How do
you try to “level the playing field” through your cur-
rent legislation? First and foremost, we need an affor-
dable vaccine. It needs to be administered equitably in all
communities. Also, we need to reopen schools safely. We
need trauma informed teachers, PPE, and many other re-
sources. We are trying to get all of these in the Education
Stabilization Fund so that schools can open.
But a lot of students will have to learn from home. Folks
at the lower end of the scale don't have the same internet
connections or laptop. When we go back and the new
norm, there'll be a bigger divide in education.
For this reason, we put remote training in the bill because
people need to be up to speed. 70% of Americans in this
country do not have a four year college degree. It's won-
derful if you can get one, but it's not always possible. You
need skills to succeed economically; we need to increase
those opportunities.
As we confront this crisis we should put in place the
pieces for afterward. Let me give you two examples. Our
unemployment system crashed due to the lack of tech-
nology-trained personnel. In the bill, we put in $925 mil-
lion to handle the volume of claims. Our public health
infrastructure is collapsing. That's why we created an
emergency bill: we give $9 billion to the CDC, $5 billion
to the NIH, $4.5 billion to BARDA for the manufacture
in the supply chain of what we need.
I engage in issues that touch everyone's life, from child-
care to retirement security. On this note, the support for
children has collapsed! Lost jobs and wages, lost food se-
curity, lost paid family leave and sick days, lost childcare,
lost five-days-a-week of in-person school, lost learning,
lost socialization, lost health care and extra support de-
livered through schools, lost safety which comes from
being at school and not being home all day, lost school
breakfasts and lunches. We need a fully refundable mon-
thly child tax credit that addresses the collapse of econo-
mic security for kids. We have a solution. We just need to
be bold enough to do it.
4 ROSA DELAURO

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Inequality on all fronts: Rosa DeLauro on protecting communities during Covid and beyond

  • 1. fter earning degrees from Marymount College and Columbia University, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has led a life in public service. In 1990, she was elected to the House of Representatives and has served in Connecticut’s Third Congressional District ever since. The YHR sat down with the Congresswoman virtually to discuss her work during the pandemic. INTERVIEW INEQUALITY ON ALL FRONTS Rosa DeLauro on protecting communities during Covid and beyond Interview by Henry Jacob Transcribed by Emilia FernándezJULY 17, 2020 I have lived in New Haven for most of my life. But only over the past months of quarantine have I have realized how much I appreciate this city. Often when I walk through my neighborhood a film reel of memo- ries plays back in my mind. What memories do you re- member most fondly from your childhood here? I was born and raised in Wooster Square. I could tell you today all the stores that were on Wooster Street when I grew up; my grandmother’s pastry store, Johnny the butcher, the candy store with Helen, Libby’s, the chicken market, Libro’s barber shop. I also know the Dixwell, Newhall- ville, and Westville communities. I love New Haven and its wonderful neighborhoods— I’m a townie! I think in a granular nature. I worked in the city hall. My mom and dad served on the city council. My mother was there for 35 years. This city is my life. People often ask what motivates me to take on issues the way I do. The answer is simple: I grew up in an Italian, Catholic household in Wooster Square. You mentioned the values your Italian-American fa- mily inculcated in you. How did you blend the lessons you learned at home with other communities in the city? I’m from a blue-collar background. My mother worked in the old sweatshops. My father became an in- surance salesman even though he finished his schooling in the seventh grade. Neither wrote omnibus legislation, but they legislated for their community. I was grounded in what it meant to be responsive to people and the diver- sity, no matter who they are. I will never forget the advice Nicholas Aiello offered me over breakfast at Howard Johnson’s. He told me to always remember the people who put me where I am and never to forget where I come from. These principles have deter- mined my personal and professional lives. A 1YALE HISTORICAL REVIEW 1701 Project
  • 2. Intertwined they are. You have dedicated plenty of your career to education and public health care. How has your approach to these issues evolved during CO- VID? Let me say something about my family and educa- tion for a moment. My father only went to school until the seventh grade, but he probably was one of the best- read people I have known. My father quoted Zola by me- mory. Also, he taught himself to play the clarinet. He was first clarinetist in the US Army band. It was the same with my mother; she started working at 14. She finished her high school education at night. My mother served for 35 years on the Board of Alders. She was the longest serving woman, but the longest serving member, ever. Again, steeped in culture and art. My folks stood at the Metropolitan Opera House to listen to the performances, because that's what they could afford. Because of them, I sit in the orchestra seats at the Met. My father told me, “You get an education, you'll be able to make $10,000 a year.” My father made less than $10,000—that was a goal. My mother had me meet her every day after school at the dress shop to see the awful conditions that these women worked in. She said to me, “Get an education so you don't have to do this.” You mentioned spaces of cultural edification that you now enjoy because of your parents. Unfortunately, no one can use these resources in person today. But access to these places has been unequal far before COVID-19. On May 30th, Roxane Gay touched upon this topic in an article in the New York Times: “The rest of the world yearns to get back to normal. For black people, normal is the very thing from which we yearn to be free.” How do you help to ensure that the U.S. does not return to this “normal?” This country is reeling from images of Black men and women senselessly killed by police. This moment forces us to confront the institutionalized ra- cism that has brought us here. Every person in power should question what we can do to end systemic dispari- ties, create equity in education, and eliminate unfair hi- ring practices. This country has left far too many people behind. We need to move forward. As we pursue the vaccine for COVID-19, we must confront the virus of the racial injustice. I am in a for- tunate position because I’ve been on the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee for 25 years and the chair for almost two. I'm proud of the work that we have done to reduce poverty and fix the structures that impact Black and brown communities. I can go through chapter and verse, whether we're looking at childcare, K through 12 and higher education, health care. Labor HHS has so far provided $280 billion for these programs in the care packages. If you add the Heroes Act, it's ano- ther $300 billion. You have understood the obstacles women face in the workplace ever since you went to the sweatshops with yourmotherasachild.Wehavealsodiscussedtheune- qual effects of the pandemic on communities of color. How have you addressed gendered as well as racialized discrimination during the last few months? Women are on average paid 82 cents. Black women 62 and Latina 54. There is no equal pay for equal work for men and wo- men in the same job in the United States today. Take a look at childcare. The Washington Post had a great article on July 4: [reading from newspaper] “Lack of childcare slowing recovery. Working parents swamped at home. Productivity slump pinned on school centers clo- sures. Childcare crunch triggered by the pandemic has In addition to her positions on various subcommittees, Rosa is also the Co-Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Photo courtesy of Congress ON THE NEXT PAGE 2 ROSA DELAURO “Every person in power should question what we can do to end systemic disparities, create equity in education, and eliminate unfair hiring practices.”
  • 4. rapidly become a crisis for many workers and companies that is hindering economic recovery, disproportionately harming women, and threatening to leave deep scars for years to come.” Women have been second class citizens for a long time. Who are the essential workers? They a re m ostly l ow paid women. When I came to the Congress, women and minorities were not included in the clinical trials at the National Institute of Health. Democratic and Republi- can women such as Pat Schroeder, Connie Morella, and Nancy Pelosi, and I changed that. I know the schedules that work. I measure paid sick days, paycheck fairness, child care. I put together the agenda for work-family issues several years ago. We did a bus tour with the Speaker and other women to broadcast a message: when women succeed, families succeed, and America succeeds. The b us t our y ou m entioned f ollows y our c onti- nued commitment to constituents since speaking at Howard Johnson's with Nicholas Aiello. How have you maintained these relationships with New Haveners on Zoom? It's hard. It's unbelievable what has happened to farmers. They have no childcare or healthcare; they leave their kids at home or they take their kids to the fields with them; they cannot socially distance in the fields. But they have to work—if they don't, their world falls apart. Many Black and brown communities cannot access the childcare industry. The C enter f or A merican P rogress just released a report on these childcare deserts. Not only are they inaccessible and not affordable, they're not there. I introduced the Childcare is Essential Act to fill this gap. The collapse of the childcare industry has major impli- cations for reopening the economy. We need to pass this emergency relief. What parents will send their kids to school if they don’t believe it's safe? In this bill, we provide money for incarcerated indivi- duals to be eligible for Pell Grants as well as funds for HBCUs. We're looking at an oversight in a rigorous way for anti-racist, culturally responsive education. I'll also add that in the Heroes bill we have the child tax credit. The child tax credit is a fully refundable monthly child tax credit to address the collapse of the economic security system for kids. The current form leaves behind one third of all children, most of whom are Black and brown. I have focused on these areas because I believe they are critical to getting us back on track economically, and to leveling the playing field for people in this country. Things fall apart, but they fall apart unevenly. How do you try to “level the playing field” through your cur- rent legislation? First and foremost, we need an affor- dable vaccine. It needs to be administered equitably in all communities. Also, we need to reopen schools safely. We need trauma informed teachers, PPE, and many other re- sources. We are trying to get all of these in the Education Stabilization Fund so that schools can open. But a lot of students will have to learn from home. Folks at the lower end of the scale don't have the same internet connections or laptop. When we go back and the new norm, there'll be a bigger divide in education. For this reason, we put remote training in the bill because people need to be up to speed. 70% of Americans in this country do not have a four year college degree. It's won- derful if you can get one, but it's not always possible. You need skills to succeed economically; we need to increase those opportunities. As we confront this crisis we should put in place the pieces for afterward. Let me give you two examples. Our unemployment system crashed due to the lack of tech- nology-trained personnel. In the bill, we put in $925 mil- lion to handle the volume of claims. Our public health infrastructure is collapsing. That's why we created an emergency bill: we give $9 billion to the CDC, $5 billion to the NIH, $4.5 billion to BARDA for the manufacture in the supply chain of what we need. I engage in issues that touch everyone's life, from child- care to retirement security. On this note, the support for children has collapsed! Lost jobs and wages, lost food se- curity, lost paid family leave and sick days, lost childcare, lost five-days-a-week of in-person school, lost learning, lost socialization, lost health care and extra support de- livered through schools, lost safety which comes from being at school and not being home all day, lost school breakfasts and lunches. We need a fully refundable mon- thly child tax credit that addresses the collapse of econo- mic security for kids. We have a solution. We just need to be bold enough to do it. 4 ROSA DELAURO