House Democrats push to reinsert paid leave into Biden's $1.75T social spending bill

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House Democrats are making a renewed push to include paid family and medical leave in President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending bill.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal announced Wednesday a federal guarantee for four weeks of paid leave in the panel’s version of the bill.

“For far too long, American workers have had to make the impossible choice between providing for their families and caring for them,” said Mr. Neal, Massachusetts Democrat. “The Ways and Means Committee crafted a policy that will finally give workers and their families the peace of mind of knowing that when disaster strikes, they can rely on paid leave to avoid total crisis.”

The provision would offer up to four weeks of paid family and medical leave for every worker in the United States.

Mr. Biden initially proposed a 12-week paid leave guarantee, but that provision was scrapped after opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat and a key swing vote.

Mr. Manchin’s opposition was enough to kill the proposal because Democrats plan to push the package through in party-line votes using budget reconciliation, which allows spending measures to pass the 50-50 Senate by a simple majority.

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Manchin will support the new proposal written by House Democrats. Mr. Manchin said that measure still presents a “challenge” because of how the program would be funded.

“I just don’t support unpaid leave,” he said. “That means getting more debt and basically putting more social programs that we can’t pay for, that we’re having problems [with] now. I want to support paid leave, I want to do it in a bipartisan way.”

Mr. Manchin added that any bipartisan compromise on paid leave would have to be done outside of the reconciliation process.

House Democrats are confident that their proposal addresses concerns about funding and will garner Mr. Manchin’s support in the end.

“We do this responsibly, fully paying for the means-tested program,” Mr. Neal said. “This is a matter of financial security, worker productivity, and most of all, humanity.”

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