Paid family leave could be cut from Build Back Better plan

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 9:24 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Senate Democrats hope to get the Build Back Better plan passed by Christmas.

Party leadership has said it would like to get it on the Senate floor this month.

However, negotiations are continuing on the $1.75 trillion safety net legislation.

One sticking point among some lawmakers is the provision about paid family leave. Some senators’ opposition to it is chief among Senator Joe Manchin (D- West Virginia) got paid family leave out of the bill, but the U.S. House of Representatives passed it last month with that provision included.

The Build Back Better plan is a key piece to President Joe Biden’s agenda. While it includes provisions on fighting climate change, universal pre-k, and child tax credits, there has been a lot of attention put on the $200 billion in the bill for paid family leave.

Feroza Freeland, policy manager for the Southern Office of A Better Balance, a worker advocacy group, has helped in the efforts to try to get paid family leave passed at a federal level.

“At some point, all of us are going to be either providing care or will need it ourselves,” Freeland said. “Whether we’re recovering from a serious illness, or caring for a new child, or taking care of an older parent.”

Freeland said about 23 percent of American workers have some sort of paid family leave. In the south, it’s even fewer.

“Just over one in five workers in the South actually receives paid family leave through their employers,” Freeland said “Women of color and low-wage workers are even less likely to have that sort of protection.”

Freeland said she was thrilled the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill with four weeks of paid family leave in it.

Now, it faces an uphill battle in the Senate where some Democrats have yet to commit to the plan.

Republican senator from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, has called the plan Build Back Broke. She has been attacking the nearly $2 trillion price tag.

“People are wise to that and they’re pushing back on it,” Blackburn said. “This is why they have not been able to push the bill forward because it’s not the agenda the American people want.”

The bill passed the House with only Democrats voting for it, and one even voting against it. There’s no set date for a vote to happen in the Senate. It would take a yes vote from every Democrat to pass.

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