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House, Senate Democrats at odds over whether to slash paid leave plan

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Senate leadership is considering slashing funding for paid leave in Democrats’ reconciliation package to $300 billion, four sources told POLITICO, as part of a broader push to bring down the bill’s price tag to appease moderates.

That’s about $200 billion, or about 40 percent, less than what the House approved. To get there, policymakers would need to make major changes to the House-drafted language, illustrating the kind of tradeoffs Democrats are being forced to consider — and the type of schisms that's creating between moderates and progressives.

“We’ve been touting this as being transformational in terms of creating job opportunities for women,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said in an interview. “It would be dastardly if the approach is one that is just going to be slash-and-burn” the House bill, “because that will mean that nothing is transformational.”

The Senate and House committees with jurisdiction have been at odds over spending $300 billion or $494 billion, respectively, on the program for a while, a source familiar with the conversations said. A funding level of $300 billion is likely enough to cover three to four weeks of leave, the source said, but not the 12 weeks that President Joe Biden proposed or that House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) put forth.

Specifics are still in flux as Democrats continue to negotiate a topline. But sources said there are a handful of options being floated, including reducing the length of the benefit; capping how much workers take home; phasing in the program; and giving it an expiration date.

“We’ve seen a strong commitment to maintain the comprehensiveness of the program; maintaining the eligibility criteria that ensures the most marginalized and vulnerable people can access the program,” Vicki Shabo, who studies paid leave at the left-leaning New America, said. “Those are both very........

© Politico

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