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Paid family leave in spotlight as Senate weighs Biden social spending plan

EconomyNov 21, 2021 06:35PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Birds fly near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fresh off securing U.S. House of Representatives passage of President Joe Biden's social and environmental spending plan, his fellow Democrats are pressing ahead with it in the Senate, where the bill may undergo major changes on issues such as paid family leave to satisfy party centrists.

The $1.75 trillion legislation, approved by the House on Friday over united Republican opposition, includes four weeks of family leave paid by the government for reasons such as the birth of a child or caring for a sick relative. It is likely to become a battleground issue in the days ahead.

The legislation, which aims to bolster the U.S. social safety net and fight climate change, must win over divided Senate Democratic moderates and liberals, as Republicans remain opposed. Democrats have said they want an agreement by year's end. Any Senate changes would need House approval again.

"There's going to be some changes," Democratic Senator Jon Tester told NBC's "Meet the Press" program, urging compromise. "We don't all see the world the same way."

Biden has said he looks forward to signing the bill into law as soon as it passes Congress, which is narrowly controlled by the Democrats. The bill must secure support from the 100-seat Senate's 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them because no Republican backs it.

Centrist Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in particular have raised concerns about its cost and scope.

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand mentioned differences with Manchin over paid family leave but said she hopes they could reach a compromise in the next three weeks.

"This is the only moment to get paid leave done. ... Now is the time," Gillibrand told CBS's "Face the Nation" program.

The cost of the four weeks of federal paid leave has been estimated at $200 billion over 10 years. Gillibrand said the legislation could include an employee-employer contribution system similar to those used by some U.S. states.

The United States is the only wealthy country that does not pay woman on maternity leave.

The White House is reaching out to lawmakers to get the legislation passed, Biden's National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said.

"We will work with every member of the Senate on this bill," Deese told the "Fox News Sunday" program, adding that the legislation has "a lot of momentum."

"We really do now have a good understanding of where the consensus lies," Deese added, on issues such as government support for childcare costs, family benefits and tax increases on corporations and the wealthy.

The House passed the bill with just one Democrat voting against it. It was scaled down from Democrats' original $3.5 trillion vision.

Paid family leave in spotlight as Senate weighs Biden social spending plan
 

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Comments (15)
Patron Silver
Patron Silver Nov 21, 2021 10:45PM ET
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let's see what the repubs. the supposed family party' kills off when it comes to actual American families
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Nov 21, 2021 9:57PM ET
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Nothing is free. Even increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations has a negative effect on everyone.
Rodney Dangerfield
Rodney Dangerfield Nov 21, 2021 9:35PM ET
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See most of these people don't believe you peasants deserve the same things that they themselves enjoy if you're not licking boots and kissing *****well there's no use for you..... maybe without family time and fair wages there's no use for you....
Samantha Sa
Samantha Sa Nov 21, 2021 8:41PM ET
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If for no other reason than cost effectiveness, I think we're at the point that guaranteed income would make sense than all the current safety net and proposed social infrastructure programs combined. A common sense approach would keep social security, expand enrollment in pension plans and cancel the rest - CHIP, SNAP, SSI, food stamps, and other forms of public assistance.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Nov 21, 2021 8:41PM ET
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No such thing as “social infrastructure”. The term is being used to make social spending an easier sell.
Samantha Sa
Samantha Sa Nov 21, 2021 8:41PM ET
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Roger Miller Do you know if a president signing a bill into law before final approval in the House and Senate has happened before?
ZS Beck
ZS Beck Nov 21, 2021 8:29PM ET
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How about ,tax the rich and corporate tax raise ? Lately haven't heard anything about
YC Teng
YC Teng Nov 21, 2021 8:22PM ET
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Go for 6 months or 12 months... These are free printed money, fiat currency
David David
David9 Nov 21, 2021 8:19PM ET
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4 weeks is not enough.... if you have a child, the first 3 months is crucial for support.
John Nguyen
John Nguyen Nov 21, 2021 7:29PM ET
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$2000 every month plz, so i don't have to go work again. come on man..
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Nov 21, 2021 6:54PM ET
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I want free pizza every Friday , comon man!
Luu Hung
Luu Hung Nov 21, 2021 6:38PM ET
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I wanna see another 10 trillion in 2022 lol
Todd Gray
Todd Gray Nov 21, 2021 6:07PM ET
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A ridiculous item to consider right now. An apex of corruption, and to far gone to know it.
Ronald Warren
Ronald Warren Nov 21, 2021 5:19PM ET
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The spending bill includes 100,000 new IRS agents to come after our money!! As one of the minority who has always and is still paying taxes, I'm a little disturbed. I don't relish the thought of an IRS conflict. Call your senators and congressmen.
Gary Christy
Gary Christy Nov 21, 2021 5:14PM ET
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they're going to spend money until we have double-digit inflation and 30% of the country is out of work
Trader Matt
Trader Matt Nov 21, 2021 4:51PM ET
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how many spending plans are they gonna do ?
John Laurens
John Laurens Nov 21, 2021 3:22PM ET
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Dems in purple states better be really careful here if they see themselves with a job next election.
 
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