On Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro reintroduced the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave program. Nearly 200 members of Congress joined them as cosponsors.
First introduced in 2013, it would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income, covering up to two-thirds of wages, to care for a new baby, a sick family member, address their own medical issues, or address military caregiving needs. It would be funded by a tax hike of less than $2 a week for most — or, as Sen. Gillibrand put it, "the cost of a cup of coffee."
With the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, it's expected to pass the House — although the Senate is a different story. "There is very serious momentum," Rep. DeLauro told HuffPost. "We've got a new Congress, we've got the largest majority of women and young people."
"The FAMILY Act, modeled on successful state programs, is the only paid leave proposal before Congress that is structured to address the needs of working people," Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said in a statement provided to Refinery29.
President Trump mentioned paid family leave, which is outlined in his 2019 budget blueprint, in the State of the Union address. First daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump has been working on a proposal with Sen. Marco Rubio. FAMILY Act proponents have criticized the Republican plan for falling short; it would only provide six weeks of leave and exclude non-parents.
The U.S. is the only industrialized country without a federal paid leave policy.
We know where 2020 hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand stands on the issue: She's one of the original architects of the FAMILY Act, and has promised to make it a chief priority on her presidential agenda. Here's what the other top Democratic presidential candidates — all of whom are cosponsors on the bill — have said about the policy.
Sen. Kamala Harris:
We need to create an economy that works for everyone, not just the few. It’s time for a national commitment to good-paying jobs, affordable childcare, and paid family leave.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) December 30, 2018
America’s lack of a national paid family leave policy means families must choose between caring for a loved one or putting food on the table— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 9, 2017
Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote an op-ed for the Boston Globe in 2016 in which she mentions paid family leave as one of the ways to help working families.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar: "I was able to take family leave when my daughter was born, and she was sick, I didn't think she was gonna be sick — but she was," she said as part of a paid-leave campaign. "And it made a big difference for us that we had some paid family leave. I think all families should have that."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (who isn't officially running for president, but everyone assumes he is) said on the 2016 campaign trail that he would sign the FAMILY Act into law if he became president. He called the projected cost of under $2 "a very good investment for working families of this country" and a "small and modest" tax increase.
We must end the international embarrassment of being the only major country on earth, the only one, which does not guarantee workers paid medical and family leave, paid sick time and paid vacation time.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 11, 2019
Sen. Joe Biden (who also officially isn't running, but everyone assumes he is) has rallied with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for New York's new paid family leave program.
Sen. Cory Booker:
Sen. Sherrod Brown:
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