Dems scrap paid leave from $3.5 trillion bill: report

In a defeat for President Joe Biden’s agenda, Senate Democrats appear to have taken measures implementing paid family and medical leave out of their budget bill, reports say.

For weeks, congressional Democrats have been attempting to pass a Biden administration-backed $3.5 trillion piece of legislation that allocates massive amounts of funding for social and environmental programs.

With just 50 votes in the Senate, Democrats can’t afford anyone from their caucus to defect if they want to have any chance of passing the bill via the budget reconciliation process. But more moderate Democratic senators, specifically West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, have balked at the bill’s price tag and signaled they will not support it as is.

On Wednesday, Politico cited three unnamed sources in reporting that “Senate Democrats are dropping paid family and medical leave from their emerging reconciliation package.”

The reported decision came after New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and others engaged in negotiations with Manchin in an attempt to keep some form of paid leave in the bill, according to CNN.

Those efforts appear to have failed.

“Biden’s initial 12-week proposal was scaled back to four weeks in an effort to secure Manchin’s support. That was rejected, leading to an effort by New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that attempted to find a compromise with Manchin,” the outlet reported.

Gillibrand, for her part, said she will keep trying.

“Until the bill is printed, I will continue working to include paid leave in the Build Back Better plan,” she said in a statement. 

Gillibrand claimed to CNN that it’s “definitely premature” to say paid leave has been scrapped from the bill.

“[Manchin] hasn’t signed off on my recent proposal, and so it’s not yet agreed to,” she said, “but I’m not giving up and I’m not going to give up until the deal is signed.”

But Manchin pointed out that some things simply don’t make fiscal sense.

“To expand social programs when you have trust funds that aren’t solvent, they’re going insolvent. I can’t explain that. It doesn’t make sense to me,” he said Wednesday.

“I want to work with everyone as long as we can start paying for things. That’s all. I can’t put this burden on my grandchildren. I’ve got 10 grandchildren … I just can’t do it,” Manchin added.