Democrats Cut Paid Leave from Biden’s Spending Bill Due to Joe Manchin Opposition

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., prepares to chair a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as lawmakers work to advance the $1 trillion bipartisan bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The Democrats plan to drop paid leave from President Biden’s spending bill due to Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) opposition.

In a move that will undoubtedly anger progressive Democrats, two sources confirmed to The Hill that paid family leave will be dropped entirely from the bill.

“It likely will not be in the final bill, despite many members lobbying him to support,” the source reportedly said.

The bill originally proposed 12 weeks of paid family leave before being negotiated down to four weeks, both of which failed to persuade Joe Manchin away from his opposition. The Hill noted:

A second source familiar with the talks described Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V) as the hold up to getting paid leave into the bill, describing him as ‘firm’ in his opposition and suggesting it was out absent a shift by him. Democrats had been working for days to try to come up with a paid leave policy that could satisfy Manchin.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D.N.Y.) said on Wednesday that she has been working to negotiate a policy that Manchin could support.

“We’re trying to get a paid leave package that Sen. Manchin is comfortable with, that is consistent with the president’s goals and values and views and vision,” Gillibrand told reporters. “I have an idea I think might work and I’m very optimistic about it.”

“I’m still working hard,” she later added. “I haven’t gotten feedback from Joe.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) expressed dismay over paid leave’s exclusion, fearing that more men and women will get fired.

“It means that women are going to get fired and men because they have to stay home with their sick child or children. That is unacceptable,” he said.

Knowing that a deal will not be reached by Thursday, Sanders further expressed frustration with certain “members” of Congress who are holding up the bill:

The problem is not with the president, the problem is with members here who, although they are very few in number … that think they have a right to determine what the rest of the Congress should be doing. And I strongly disagree. It’s not conceivable to me that we’re going to have a deal today.

Both Sen. Joe Mancin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have objected to what they feel are excessive elements of the bill that progressive Democrats overwhelmingly favor, such as an expansion of welfare handouts, free college, free pre-K, and increased efforts to combat global climate change. Speaking with reporters earlier this month, Sen. Manchin feared that the bill would further create an “entitlement society.”

“I’ve been very clear when it comes to who we are as a society, who we are as a nation, and why we are still the hope of the world,” he said. “I don’t believe that we should turn our society into an entitlement society. I think that we should still be a compassionate, rewarding society.”

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