By Robert G. Brody and Mark J. Taglia
March 10, 2023
On Thursday, March 9th, President Biden submitted his proposed fiscal year 2024 budget request to Congress. In it he seeks a $1.5 billion increase to the U.S. Department of Labor Budget. Most of this increase would support the President’s paid family and medical leave initiatives.
In his proposed budget, Biden seeks three months of paid leave for American workers. The President’s stated goal is to permit Americans to take time off for a variety of reasons, including:
- to bond with a new child;
- to care for seriously sick family members;
- to recover from one’s own serious health issue; and
- to obtain support/protection from sexual assault and violence.
The scope of coverage under this bill is not news; the fact that it would be paid is the headline. Currently, the U.S. is one of just a few highly developed countries not to provide its citizens with a paid leave program. In recent years, some states have offered paid leave of up to 12 weeks through programs which are similar to the President’s latest proposal. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted some sort of paid family leave legislation: California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia,Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington currently have laws in effect; Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Oregon enacted laws not in effect yet.
On Thursday the President spoke out in support of the proposed program, arguing the time has come for the U.S. to, “no longer [be] the only major economy in the world that doesn’t have paid leave.” The proposal delivers on campaign promises made by Biden when he ran in 2020. Now the hard part, getting it by Congress.
If passed, the proposal would provide paid leave access to approximately 92% of low-paid workers (predominantly women and people of color), who don’t currently have access. Experts believe it will be virtually impossible to get a 12-week paid leave program passed with a bi-partisan split in Congress. Time will tell!
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