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Rep. Katie Porter Introduces Bill to Make It Easier for Working Parents to Run for Office

As House Democrats push electoral reform, Congresswoman’s Help America Run Act would allow campaign funds to go towards childcare

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) has introduced legislation that would explicitly allow campaign funds to pay for childcare expenses, making it easier for working parents to run for elected office. She also pushed for the inclusion of similar language in H.R. 1, the House Democrats’ historic electoral and campaign finance reform legislation, which passed the House floor today.

“As a single working mom of three young kids, I know firsthand about the barriers that stop many Americans from serving their country in public office,” Congresswoman Porter said. “Most Americans my age are working parents—including many in the 45th District—but there are few of us with a seat at the table when it comes to writing legislation to make life easier for working families. My bill would clarify that campaign funds can be spent on childcare and enable more working parents to make the jump into public service.”

Currently, federal law does not expressly address the permissibility of payments for child care expenses. Candidates who want definitive guidance must individually appeal to the Federal Election Commission for an advisory opinion. This is an unnecessary hurdle, particularly for non-wealthy candidates such as working parents. Congresswoman Porter’s Help America Run Act would allow campaign funds to go towards childcare, elder care, dependent care, and healthcare premiums.

The Help America Run Act has the support of a number of outside experts in democracy and political science.

“I have spent the last decade using quantitative data to study the obstacles that discourage middle- and working-class Americans from running for elected political office. The Help America Run Act would send a powerful message to working Americans,” said Dr. Nicholas Carnes, Creed C. Black Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University. “The legislation is truly novel; it would be the first federal legislation in American history to acknowledge the existence of an economic gap between members of Congress and the people they represent.”

“Giving non-wealthy candidates more ways to make ends meet so they can run for office is another step towards truly representative government, one that we strongly support,” said Wendy R. Weiser, Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.