U.S. Democratic lawmakers announced this week that a national paid family and medical leave policy would not be included in President Biden’s "Build Back Better" spending package.
Due to a lack of support from Republicans, Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) support was needed for the agenda to pass. Centrist Manchin first cut Biden’s original proposal of 12 weeks of paid family leave down to four weeks. He eventually eliminated it altogether, because he said it could not be paid for.
"I want to work with everyone as long as we can start paying for things. That's all." CNN quoted Manchin as saying. "I can't put this burden on my grandchildren. I've got 10 grandchildren... I just can't do it."
During her weekly press conference on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), said she still hopes that paid leave could still make it into the final version of the bill.
"There are some things that are not in that I frankly have not given up on," Pelosi said. "I still would like to see paid leave for the babies, if we can't get the rest. But that's still a work in progress, shall we say."
According to data from the World Policy Analysis Center at UCLA, the move would make the U.S. one of just six countries in the world without any form of national paid leave, and one of eight countries without national maternity leave.
The global average for paid maternity leave is 29 weeks, and the global average for paid paternity leave is 16 weeks, according to UCLA researchers.
Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, private sector companies with 50 employees or more are required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off. According to March data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 23 percent of private industry workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave.