Bipartisan Paid Leave Won’t Work

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Sen. Joe Manchin says he wants paid leave on a bipartisan basis. His colleagues and advocates point to a long history of this not happening.

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The Democrats’ paid leave proposal is on lifetime support, with Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) continuing to block the single vote Democrats need to implement one of the most popular policies on their agenda.

This policy will ensure that all American workers have at least four weeks of paid family and medical leave by 2024. Munchkin has been opposing inclusion in the Build Back Better bill, a sweeping spending and tax proposal hoping to be passed on Democrat party lines since Republicans have made it clear they will not back it.

Munchkin is not necessarily against the whole policy, but he wants it to be bipartisan.

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This leaves Democrats and advocates with the potentially more difficult task of convincing the West Virginia senator that this is not going to happen.

Last week, after weeks of talking with Munchkin, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D.N.Y.) reached out to censors Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), two Republicans she thought might be ready to work on a bipartisan paid leave proposal.

Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) wants paid leave to be done on a bipartisan basis.
Joshua Roberts via Getty Images

Collins explained that the conversation was very preliminary, just to find out if there was common ground. Over the weekend, Gillibrand said she had come to the conclusion that Democrats would have to launch a paid vacation program on their own, without Republican support.

“This is the only moment to get paid leave,” Gillibrand Said on CBS’s Face the Nation, “bilateral views” [Manchin] is — they won’t come along with Republican senators who are interested in paid leave…”

“I’ve seen and I’ve talked to all the Republicans who are interested in paid leave, and none of them are interested in what they want to do,” she continued.

House Democrats included four weeks of paid family and medical leave in their version of the Build Back Better bill passed last week – down from the 12 weeks initially supported by the White House and proposed by Democratic leaders. Benefits will be paid at different rates depending on the employee’s income, either through a new federal benefit or through existing state or employer plans. The Senate, despite Munchkin’s continued opposition, continues to include language in its bill similar to the House resolution.

Gillibrand says Munchkin wants a program for which both employers and employees pay with a small payroll tax. Republicans do not support it.

Vicki Shabo, a paid leave expert at the liberal-minded think tank New America, said, “Trying to forge a bipartisan path on paid leave means that millions of families will not have paid leave any time soon or large portions of people will have to pay leave.” will be cut.” said. “There is no plausible ‘Plan B’ that will give timely benefits to the people.”

His pessimism is based on years of bipartisan efforts to get paid leave in law. Despite this being a remarkably popular proposition (also Republican), the United States remains a foreign country globally, being the only country among its international peers that does not provide any form of paid leave protection for workers.

Arguably the biggest paid leave policy victory was passed under President Donald Trump with Republican support, when Democrats used Trump’s Space Force will as leverage to win. Paid Leave for New Parents in the Federal Workforce,

That policy did not cover private sector workers and was specifically aimed at new parents. Only 20% of workers have access to the private sector paid family leave And about 42% have paid medical leave. Low-wage workers are most likely to have no access to paid leave.

Parents and caregivers call on Congress to include paid family and medical leave in the Build Back Better legislative package during the full day's observance on November 2.
Parents and caregivers call on Congress to include paid family and medical leave in the Build Back Better legislative package during the full day’s observance on November 2.
Paul Morigi via Getty Images

Republicans and Democrats briefly recognized this shortcoming during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing a brief mandate for some large employers to take care of an employee who got COVID-19 or had the illness. Offered paid medical leave in The federal government offered businesses tax credits to offset the costs.

Republicans almost immediately stopped supporting the policy after the initial passage, and all that was left by the end of 2020 was a voluntary tax credit program that most businesses did not participate in. Those tax credits have already expired.

There are still some tax credits on the books surrounding paid parental leave, passed by partisan Republicans through a 2017 tax law that was similarly so unfounded that advocates consider them immaterial.

Don Hucklebridge, director of the advocacy group Paid Leave for All, said of voluntary tax incentive programs, “It just means they don’t work.” “It’s not going to be outreach enough. We know the private sector just hasn’t noticed it.”

Two other proposals, one from Censor Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and another from Censor. Kirsten Cinemas (D-Ariz.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) capture just how far Republicans are from the Universal Paid Leave Program.

Romney and Rubio proposed Allowing a parent to opt out of their Social Security early Taking time off after the birth or adoption of a new baby. A bipartisan version of this proposal, from Cinema and Cassidy, wanted to allow Parents Will Advance Thousands of Dollars in Child Tax Credit to pay for their leave. (Democrats have since expanded the child tax credit, paying it in advance on a monthly basis.)

Cinema now fully supports Democrats’ plan on paid leave, which would offer direct paid leave benefits for workers who either had children, are sick, or have to care for a loved one.

“The common theme is that many of these proposals, which used to be called bipartisan paid leave proposals, are neither paid nor granted leave,” Hucklebridge said. “It’s just passing money around.”

Democratic staff, lawmakers, and advocates all have the same message: If comprehensive paid leave isn’t passed by Democrats now, it’s not going to happen.


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