Houlahan to Biden: Protect Paid Family and Medical Leave in Build Back Better Act

HoulahanImage via Rep. Chrissy Houlahan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) led 105 House Democrats in a letter this week urged President Biden to defend paid family and medical leave provisions as the negotiations of the Build Back Better Act progress. The signatories represent a broad ideological swathe of the House Democratic Caucus and a years-long effort to advance this priority for working families.

“I had my first child when I was active duty in the Air Force,” said Houlahan. “Serving my country and caring for my daughter at the same time was hard, but decades later it’s a challenge millions of parents still face. And the pandemic has only made matters worse. It’s beyond time for elected officials who say they support working families to match their words with their votes. We need paid family and medical leave now.”

Watch Houlahan speak on the House Floor in support of paid family and medical leave here.

Houlahan has been a champion of paid leave since she was elected to Congress in 2019, leading historic legislation that guaranteed 12 weeks of paid parental leave to federal workers and uniformed service members, regardless of their branch of service. She then led legislation through the Foreign Affairs committee to harmonize parental leave policies for the State Department employees around the world.

This summer, she took the next step by successfully urging House Leadership to secure additional paid family and medical leave for Pennsylvanians in the Build Back Better Act. Now, Houlahan and over 100 of her democratic colleagues are fighting to get this priority over the finish line with their letter to President Biden.

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“We write to express our support for maintaining robust paid family and medical leave in the final reconciliation package,” wrote the members of Congress. “Paid leave is a top priority for us and the workers we represent.”

“The need to take leave is inevitable over the course of a lifetime, whether to care for a loved one with a serious medical condition, welcome a new family member, as in the birth or adoption of a child, or to handle a personal health crisis. Without universal paid leave, as our population ages, more and more workers will find themselves forced to choose between dealing with family and health challenges and staying in the workforce. Yet, the United States is the only Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country that does not require paid leave for new mothers, is one of only two OECD countries that does not require paid medical leave, and is increasingly out of step with its peer countries who now offer caregiving leave.

“Lack of paid family and medical leave has a particularly detrimental impact on women’s economic security, as women are more likely than men to serve as primary caregivers and are therefore more likely to need paid time off to ensure that their children or other family members receive the medical care and attention that they need. Paid leave also increases women’s labor force participation and attachment, which is a key driver of economic growth.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

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