Another election promise seems to have bitten the dust. While campaigning, President Joe Biden vowed to institute paid family level. He included it in his massive Build Back Better spending package, but the initiative appears headed for the scrap heap.
There have been weeks of negotiations and the Democrats have had to keep whittling the plan down to get broader approval and lure in Republican support. But one of the items that is being deleted is the national paid leave, and Progressive Democrats aren’t happy.
The paid leave is part of Biden’s sprawling social safety net package. He originally proposed 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave in his economic agenda. Then it was decreased to four weeks and it has been eliminated completely after pushback from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Senate Democrats needed their entire caucus, which includes Manchin, to be on board due to a lack of support from Republicans, NBC News reported.
Negotiations to get Manchin behind paid leave went down to the wire, according to Politico reporter Eleanor Mueller. “Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, a longtime advocate for paid leave, negotiated with Sen. Joe Manchin throughout the week to keep paid leave in the bill — sharing the stories of workers and drafting alternatives. But her efforts were unsuccessful,” Mueller tweeted.
She added, “Already, advocates are fuming over what they see as an unwillingness by the White House to fight hard enough for a policy it won election on, particularly in the face of a public health crisis and an economic crisis that disproportionately impacted women and low-wage workers”.
Besides the paid leave, Biden’s Build Back Better package has had other items cut as Democrats push to reach a deal. These include two years free community college, the Clean Energy Performance Program, and tax rate hikes on the wealthy and corporations, tweeted Sahil Kapur, a reporter for NBC News.
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“That is definitely disappointing,” said Debra Lancaster, executive director of Rutgers University Center for Women and Work. “I view it, and I think many people view it as one of the foundational elements that’s now gone.”
The rest of the world is widely behind the concept of national paid leave. The U.S. is just one of just six countries without any form of national paid leave and one of eight without national maternity leave, according to data from UCLA’s World Policy Analysis Center.
The worldwide average for paid maternity leave is 29 weeks and 16 weeks for paid paternity leave, according to UCLA researchers.
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