Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who’s a little less than a month in her presidential run, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) plan to reintroduce the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act on Tuesday—a bill that would create a national program to provide up to 12 weeks of partially paid time off for workers dealing with either their own health (including childbirth and recovery) or the health concerns of a child, spouse, parent, or domestic partner. Workers would be able to earn up to 66 percent of their wages up to a capped amount, and it would be funded by a small payroll tax (two-tenths of one percent) paid by employers and employees
Thanks to the new class of Democratic representatives, there’s a chance the bill will in fact pass the House of Representatives this time around. (Gillibrand and DeLauro first put forth the bill in 2013.) “There is very serious momentum,” DeLauro told the Huffington Post. “We’ve got a new Congress, we’ve got the largest majority of women and young people.” For the bill to pass the Senate, however, Republicans would need to join Democrats, an uphill climb.
Still, the bill is better positioned to attract bipartisan support than ever. Because in 2019 it’s not just Democrats who committed to paid leave. You may remember that in his 2017 speech to a joint session of Congress, Donald Trump said, “My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave.” And the issue is one Trump’s daughter and senior advisor Ivanka Trump has championed, albeit with a mixed reception from advocates. She is also reportedly working on a plan of her own with Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
DeLauro described family leave as now being at the “center of the debate, rather than the fringes.” HuffPost reports that 29 percent of candidates in 2018 made paid family leave a part of their campaign platforms, up from 4 percent in 2014.
The hope is all this conversation will lead to actual forward momentum on an issue so vital to American workers, but one that has remained unchanged at the federal level since the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed in 1993.