Joe Manchin, a senate Democrat representing West Virginia, recently ended the hopes of universal paid leave. On the 27th of October, Democrats announced that the universal paid leave provision from the Build Back Better legislation would cease to exist due to an inability to convince Senator Manchin. Manchin, an establishment Democrat, is usually not on board with more progessive policies and has ended the start of many left-leaning programs. Manchin along with Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have recently announced that they would not support the passage of a package of 3.5 trillion dollars over 10 years under President Biden’s initial plan. With a now perceived budget of only $2 trillion, many programs such as universal paid leave will have to be cut. This is a huge blow as many hoped that under a Democrat led Senate, more progressive legislation would finally be passed.
Image Credit: Ian Hutchinson
Manchin has had concerns of fraud and the cost of having paid leave. As of late, Democrats have tried to compromise with Manchin such as cutting the weeks from twelve to four and just plainly leaving out sick leave, but an agreement couldn’t be made .Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York did have hope that Manchin would eventually agree, but that hope was squashed Wednesday. Manchin commented on the bill not belonging in the Build Back Better Plan with ‘’I’m looking at everything but to put this into a reconciliation bill-it’s a major policy- is not the place to do it.’’
Universal paid leave is a program that would allow new parents to take work off to raise their newborn, recently ill workers to recover from whatever sickness and take care of personal issues. The United States is one of the only industrialized countries to not offer this basic program. As of now, workers have to rely on their employers to grant them paid leave which many do not. Many have hoped that with the pandemic that workers would be able to get these programs enacted under the Biden administration as a temporary federal mandate for paid leave was introduced during the beginning of the pandemic. In 2019, former President Trump signed the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act leaving an estimated 2 million employees access to twelve weeks of paid leave for new parents. This Act may be the only legislation pertaining to universal paid leave passed in the upcoming years unless a bill can be compromised with Senate Democrats.