Obama Hosts First-ever Summit on Working Families at the White House


President Obama is hoping that the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families Monday will put pressure on Republicans to support several policies his administration has promoted to improve the lives of women and their families across America.

“We’ve got, unfortunately I think, a faction of one party that says no to everything. And maybe the summit can highlight that this is not a partisan issue. This is a middle class issue. This is an American issue,” the president told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell when asked why a law granting the American people paid family leave can’t pass Congress. Mr. Obama noted the U.S. is “unique among developed countries in not offering it.”

He will issue a presidential memorandum at the summit directing federal agencies to step up efforts to expand flexible workplace policies and report on best practices and any barriers to implementation. The memorandum will also “make clear” that federal workers can request a flexible work arrangement without fear of retaliation and will direct agencies to establish procedures for addressing those requests, the White House said.

In the interview with O’Donnell, Mr. Obama recalled his own childhood where his single mother and grandmother played a crucial role.

“Both of them were strong, hard-working women. But they experienced the glass ceiling. They dealt with childcare crises,” he said. The same was true of his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, when he was off campaigning or out of town, he said.

“Now I’ve got two daughters. So I want to make sure that they’re able to balance family life and the workplace…or at least, their choices will be better than some of the choices that exist before,” he said. “The idea of this working summit is to really lift up conversations that every family all across America has every day.”

The president acknowledged that some progress has been made and women have entered careers that would not have been open to them a generation ago, but that they are still too often burdened with the task of child rearing and making less money than men.

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