On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) requested paid family and medical leave to be included in the hearing on the social spending package Democrats are attempting to pass.
Pelosi sent a letter to House Democratic colleagues, stating, “It had been my intention throughout this process to put on the House Floor and pass a bill that would pass the Senate in the same form. Because I have been informed by a Senator of opposition to a few of the priorities contained in our bill and because we must have legislation agreed to by the House and the Senate in the final version of the Build Back Better Act that we will send to the President’s desk, we must strive to find common ground in the legislation.”
Notably, Pelosi wrote, “As we are reviewing priorities and at the urging of many Members of the Caucus, I have asked the Ways and Means Committee for its legislation for Paid Family and Medical Leave to be included in this morning’s hearing.”
Pelosi also included further planning in the letter:
We had planned for a Rules Committee hearing on the Build Back Better legislation on Monday, but suggestions for change continued to come in. This morning, we will present to Rules the amendment which contains some changes. Members have been asked to further review the legislative text posted six days ago, as well as the amendment that will be released this morning.
NBC News, citing two sources familiar with the matter, reports the proposal “will include four weeks of paid leave. ”
As the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week, Biden’s outline for the social spending package that was released last week “[did] not include provisions that would provide access to paid family and sick leave, a core component of a package many Democrats had hoped to tout on the 2022 campaign trail.”
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a key Democratic vote, had not been in support of including the paid family leave measure in the package, which originally led to the Democrats cutting it from the legislation. The Democrats need all Democratic votes in the Senate to get the bill through.
As The Hill reported, “Biden had initially proposed 12 weeks of paid family leave as part of his sweeping proposal to expand social benefits and climate programs — a provision adopted by House Democrats. But Manchin had balked at the $494 billion price tag, forcing negotiators to consider a sharp reduction of the benefit — down to four weeks — before Biden slashed it altogether in the framework he unveiled last week.”
On Tuesday, Manchin explained his opposition.
“I’m working on paid leave. I support paid leave but not in this bill in the way it’s presented because they had to — they really had to adjust the paid leave to fit into reconciliation,” Manchin said.
“In this bill you can’t get it done because of the constraints we have,” Manchin added.
After Pelosi’s announcement, Manchin doubled down on his stance, saying, “That’s a challenge, very much of a challenge. And they know how I feel about that.”
The paid family leave had previously been taken out of the measure as the entire package was reduced in size from around $3.5 trillion. The White House has repeatedly made the claim that the bill would cost nothing to the American people, a line of thinking that was met with mockery.
Fox News host Chris Wallace said last month, “I’ve been in Washington for more than 40 years and this might be the dumbest spin line I’ve ever heard, that a $3 trillion bill costs nothing, because you’re going to pay for it.”
He added, “I mean, I don’t know, when you bought your last car and you paid for it, did you think, ‘Well, I got that for free, that costs nothing?’ No, you paid for it. So you could say — and I don’t think actually this will even be true – that it’ll add nothing to the debt, but it certainly doesn’t cost nothing. It’s not free. It costs whatever it costs.”