House Democrats Put Paid Family Leave Back into Spending Bill

Paid family leave could be back in the spending bill. House Democrats have again amended Biden’s Build Back Better plan after backlash for removing paid family leave. 

House speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter Wednesday to members of the House Democratic caucus, in which she said that the proposal for family and medical leave will be included in the legislative text. The proposed bill will next be considered by the House Rules Committee.

For months, lawmakers have been debating the social spending package, which is set to cost $3.5 trillion. It includes a wide range of social issues, including climate change spending.

Last week, President Joe Biden announced he was trimming down the bill by half, after receiving concerns of the cost of the bill. This included taking paid leave out of the package. But following pushback, the Democrats now want to bring back the inclusion of paid family leave. Originally, the plan was for 12 weeks of paid leave. Now, it’s been cut to four. 

A vote on the package has not yet been announced. Pelosi said there remain a few outstanding issues to be resolved, and therefore is waiting for negotiators to come to an agreement on the remaining differences before bringing it to a full House vote. 

The U.S. is the only one of 41 wealthy countries in the world that gives zero days of paid family leave. Other countries globally offer more than a year, and the smallest amount of paid leave in any other of the 40 countries is approximately two months. Only 23 percent of American workers currently have some type of family leave. 

Research shows that the majority of Americans support paid family leave and medical leaves. A study conducted by Pew Research Center found that Americans largely support paid leave, and also found broad support for paid leave for serious health conditions. The study shows that the need for family and medical leave is broadly felt across the country, with most being forced to take it unpaid.

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