The Phoenix Flyer

Paid family and medical leave still on the table in Congress? Advocates say it’s essential

By: - November 9, 2021 2:59 pm

Mother and baby. Credit: Image Source/Getty Images

Paid leave for families was recently sidelined from President Joe Biden’s federal spending package for social programs, but it appears to have been resurrected, though reduced.

What had been a proposed 12-week program for paid family and medical leave has shifted to just four weeks, as Congress continues the debate over Biden’s agenda, according to a CNN report.

“Family leave is an essential need for working families and an integral part of the president’s Build Back Better program,” said Coy Jones, political coordinator for 1199SEIU, a statewide union for health care workers in Florida.

“These initiatives will benefit all Floridians through investments in caregiving programs that provide invaluable services, as well as strategically growing the overall economy,” Jones said in an email to the  Phoenix.

The advocacy group said it is pleased to see the family leave provision back in the Biden package.

Providing paid family and medical leave has been a key issue in Biden’s $1.85 trillion spending plan and could help new parents maintain employment while taking paid time off to take care of their families.

However, the plan still has to go through the U.S. Senate and may face pushback, as Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has expressed concerns over the cost of the social spending package, according to a New York Times report.

Some House Democrats wanted time to fully review what was in that bill that is around 2,000 pages long, according to the Times report.

The union had urged “Florida elected officials in Washington to support these important programs,” Coy Jones said.

“While we are dismayed that partisan GOP politicians will vote automatically as a block against these critical plans, we’re also disappointed that some representatives such as Stephanie Murphy have been holding up the Build Back Better framework and the benefits it will bring to working Floridians through her inaction to date,” Jones said in an email to the Phoenix.

Murphy did vote yes on the $1.2-trillion infrastructure package over the weekend, according U.S. House data, but lawmakers in Congress are still pursuing the social spending legislation.

According to an NPR report, the United States is one of a handful of countries without a national paid leave program. However, federal workers are granted 12 weeks of paid parental leave through the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.

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