Why the disappearance of paid family leave this time could fuel it later

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Lawyers say lawmakers shouldn’t give up just yet. Marc Freedman, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president for employment policy, said the business group met with congressional offices ahead of the pandemic, pushing for a national paid vacation plan to replace the patchwork of state and local government plans.

The government would create a minimum benefit that companies would be allowed to exceed for recruitment and retention, funded by a payroll tax paid by employees. Such a plan would help small businesses compete for the workforce with larger companies, while offloading some of the burden on companies that already offer time off plans.

“We really want to resume these conversations,” he said.

Some Republicans, especially Republican women, say they are ready to join these talks.

“This is an issue that we need to solve as a nation and look at and get creative,” said West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who helped secure paid time off for federal workers.

But like the infrastructure deal struck this summer, Democrats probably wouldn’t get everything they want. Ms Capito, for example, said the plan Mr Manchin killed was too generous, with time off beyond care for new babies and sick family members.

Ms. Gillibrand said she had already started raising awareness. She told Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine about a middle step of helping small states band together with larger ones to create regional leave programs. She pointed to the flexibility on funding the type of insurance mechanism that Mr. Freedman said the Chamber of Commerce favors.

But none of those ideas would happen as quickly as the broad agenda Mr Manchin opposes, she said.


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