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How back to school is going for Congress’s only single mom

Jen Rogers
·Anchor
·4 mins read

You’re not alone. This school year is impossible.

Everyone is messing up, even members of Congress are sending kids to school on the wrong day. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) spoke with Yahoo Finance on her kids’ first day of in-person learning.

“I managed to have one kid there on the totally wrong day. He's supposed to go tomorrow,” said Porter. “I had one child who got lost on the way to school – same school he's attended for six years. And I have one that I haven't heard of, so I can only assume she's there learning something.”

And it’s not as if she didn’t prepare. This is a woman known for her comprehensive and diligent research ahead of interviewing Trump appointees and bank CEOs. “I read lots of messages, I followed lots of procedures, I briefed everybody on what to do,” she said of her extensive planning for the unusual school year.

Turns out this hybrid school thing may be harder than interviewing Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg or Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 24: Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif.,  questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing titled Protecting the Timely Delivery of Mail, Medicine, and Mail-in Ballots, in Rayburn House Office Building on Monday, August 24, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/Pool)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 24: Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/Pool)

‘Zero’ time to focus solely on work

On Thursday the challenges of single motherhood were on full display even for a member of Congress. From her kitchen in California, Porter voted virtually on amendments to the “Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act” (she voted Yea on final passage of the bill). Then, before sitting for our interview, she had one more piece of business to attend to while the video connection got set: colored pencils for one of her children.

“I have every kind of choice out there,” she said while rummaging through her kitchen for options.

Then it was time for our interview to begin. “With three kids, the maximum in-person learning, the sum total of minutes that I will have all three children in school, so I can focus solely on my job — zero,” she said.

[Read more: Trump would be hard to question because he's 'simply not truthful': Rep. Katie Porter]

Porter is running for re-election in November and is expected to win. But she’s worried about other working mothers taking a step back because of childcare concerns.

“If we don't have affordable childcare, that you can actually work full-time, and be able to afford to have your kid go to a quality after-school program, people will exit the workplace. And we are seeing women do that now, disproportionate to men,” she noted.

Democratic congressional candidate Katie Porter hugs her children at the end of her midterm election night party in Irvine, California, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot
Democratic congressional candidate Katie Porter hugs her children at the end of her midterm election night party in Irvine, California, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

‘I am very worried about working parents’

Porter, who came to Congress in 2018 after flipping her Southern California district blue, is a progressive and former law student of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Porter has become known for her devastating questioning and pointed exchanges in Congress.

She got Robert R. Redfield, the director of the CDC, to agree to pay for coronavirus testing, she stumped Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on the price of a postcard; she challenged Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg to moderate Facebook content for an hour a day; she pressed JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon about his entry level employees; and she explained the difference between an REO (real estate owned) property and an Oreo to HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

For those witnesses, she says she sometimes stays up all night preparing. As any working parent knows, the middle of the night is often the best time to get important work done.

Porter thinks the coronavirus pandemic has actually helped expose issues working families and single parents have faced for years. “It's causing some people, I think, to see a problem that was there long before the pandemic,” she said.

“Part of what makes people lower-income is being a single parent,” she said. “That's one of the best corollaries with being lower-income. And so I am really worried about working moms and working families right now.”

Jen Rogers is an anchor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @JenSaidIt.

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