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Congress will finally guarantee paid leave benefits for federal workers

The agreement was reached despite months of complaints from Trump that House Democrats were too busy impeaching him to do any legislating.

By Josh Israel - December 10, 2019
Parents, child, cell phone
Mother and son standing in kitchen (Blend Images via AP Images)

Congressional leaders have reportedly agreed on a deal to provide paid parental leave for civilian federal employees, a longtime priority for Democrats. If enacted, the landmark deal would guarantee 2.1 million workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for their newborn or adopted children.

The agreement would bring parity for civilian workers, as military members already enjoy this option. The deal reportedly will not include leave to care for family members other than children, but represents the first major expansion of protected leave since the Family and Medical Leave Act was signed in 1993.

Most other major industrialized countries have guaranteed paid leave for all new parents, not just government workers, and studies have shown it is hugely important for the health of both parents and children.

To get the Republican Senate to agree to the paid leave proposal, Democrats will reportedly allow Donald Trump to create his proposed “space force” branch of the armed forces. The maligned idea has featured prominently in Trump campaign swag.

As a candidate, Trump opposed paid leave as a concept, telling Fox News, “I think we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it.”

Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump has championed reform, joining with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to propose allowing citizens to dip into social security benefits to pay for leave. That idea, however, has already been met with scrutiny, with the National Partnership for Women & Families slamming the proposal as “reckless, irresponsible and ill-conceived,” and a cut to people’s social security.

This week’s deal — along with a reported agreement on an improved USMCA trade pact — flies in the face of Trump’s favorite talking point about Congress. For months, he has claimed that the House is run by “Do Nothing Democrats” who are too busy dealing with impeachment to actually legislate.

In reality, the House has passed more than 400 pieces of legislation already this year that are being blocked in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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