Amid rancor, paid family leave advances

A bill that would provide federal employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave each year advanced in committee this week. 

On July 20, the House Oversight and Reform Committee voted—on strictly partisan lines 24-to-16—to send the legislation to the House floor for a vote. The contentiousness was expected, and reflected months of previous wrangling over the bill. 

Currently, such long stints of paid family leave for feds are limited—specifically, under the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) of 2019, feds are covered only for the birth, adoption and caring for a new child. 

The new legislation, dubbed the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act (CPLFEA), has been sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) It would not only lock in greatly expanded paid leave for civil service feds, it would also add hundreds of thousands of Postal Service employees under the umbrella of the law. CPLFEA would add a range of non-child care situations qualifying for paid family leave.

Feds currently have FEPLA (and of course sick leave and annual leave) as benefits. The proposed legislation, pursuing aims outlined in President Biden's American Families Plan, would expand eligible paid family leave circumstances to include long-term personal illness, caring for sick family members or to manage when a family member is put on active duty in the military services.

The hearing was marked by sharp disagreement and division along party lines—with Republican members questioning, most fundamentally, the need for any additional leave time for federal employees.

Beyond the question of need, some minority members took issue with introduction of previously unreleased, and preliminary, Congressional Budget Office cost estimates associated with the benefit. The objections ranged from judging the cost estimates to be unrealistically low to claims that, prior to the public hearing, the majority alone were privy to the CBO documents.

The minority's objections, and the majority’s responses, are discussed in greater detail in reports from Federal News Network and GovExec

Reader comments

Thu, Jul 22, 2021

This is an important bill, and to those who say feds have enough leave, it's not so for certain challenges. And having this pass for feds will be a good precedent for some companies in corporate America that still lag on this. And to help a discussion about making it for more medium sized companies and getting this to become an economic and job norm in this country as it is in other developed countries.

Wed, Jul 21, 2021

The minority had no problem with the cost of tax cuts for the rich and multi-national corps but when it comes to help for regular folks they balk. Hypocritical me thinks.

Wed, Jul 21, 2021

Can't imagine taxpayers wanting to pay for it when they already have annual and sick leave. Why not just extend the annual and/or sick leave.

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