House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a media availability at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 24, 2021. Alex Brandon/AP

  • Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that four weeks of paid leave is back in Democrats’ social-spending bill.

  • Paid leave was not included in Biden’s initial $1.75 trillion framework released last week.

  • Democrats nixed it, along with tuition-free community college, to appease centrist holdouts Sens. Manchin and Sinema.

President Joe Biden unveiled a $1.75 trillion social-spending framework last week, and it was significantly scaled-down, leaving many progressive priorities like free community college and paid family and medical leave out.

But Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and some other Democrats, made clear the framework was not final. On Wednesday, Pelosi informed her colleagues she is requesting four weeks of paid leave be added back into the bill, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to Insider.

“As we are reviewing priorities and at the urging of many Members of the Caucus, I have asked the Ways and Means Committee for its legislation for Paid Family and Medical Leave to be included in this morning’s hearing,” Pelosi wrote in a Dear Colleague letter. “Chairman Richie Neal and the Committee staff have worked on this priority for a long time and were ready.”

In Democrats’ initial $3.5 trillion proposal, they sought to include 12 weeks of the popular paid leave measure. However, due to opposition from centrist holdouts Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, it was cut from Biden’s framework. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – a Democratic lawmaker that has advocated for paid leave – wrote in a statement after the unveiling of the plan: “Until the bill is printed, I will continue working to include paid leave in the Build Back Better plan.”

Pelosi also indicated last week that she still wanted to see paid leave in the final version of the bill.

Now, paid leave is back in, according to Pelosi. In a statement, Gillibrand said she “strongly supports” Pelosi’s proposal to include four weeks of paid leave.

“I couldn’t be happier and I couldn’t be more convinced that this is the right path for the country,” Vicki Shabo, a paid-leave expert at the think tank New America, told Insider. She said that a four week plan “will mean that tens of millions of people that don’t have access to paid family or medical leave right now will have access to it.”

As of March 2021, only 23% of civilian workers had access to paid leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The US is an outlier among peer countries, and is the only country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) without paid leave.

“With paid leave, we will finally recognize that workers have responsibilities outside of their jobs and unlock their full potential,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal said in a statement.

Shabo emphasized that the inclusion of the measure will have broader economic benefits beyond allowing workers to take time off.

“This will have implications on women’s labor force participation and earnings, on the ability of people caring for loved ones to be able to remain in the workforce, and to improve their financial security, both in the short term and for retirement,” Shabo said.

When asked by Insider if workers should be paying into a paid leave program, Manchin said “absolutely.”

“I think it should be participation. I always felt that. I think that basically employer and employees should participate,” he said, adding that both states and countries have used that models.”It seems to work very well and does not put a burden on anybody,” Manchin said, “but a person knows what they have and what they can use – and how they can use it – when they want it.”

Gillibrand, one of the measure’s most outspoken legislative advocates, said in a statement that the policy will make America “more competitive in the global market and end our reign as the only industrialized country without a paid leave program.” She added:

“I will keep fighting until the ink is dry and President Biden has signed paid leave into law.”

Read the original article on Business Insider


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