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Democrats are scrambling to find a way to include some sort of national paid vacation program in their Rebuild Better budget bill, but that could mean leaving protections aside for those who are sick or caring themselves. sick family members.

Facing opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (DW.V.), Democrats are discussing a much narrower proposal that would only cover new parents, according to Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.).

Shaheen said on Wednesday that she understood the proposal would provide 12 weeks of paid leave to new parents. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y), who is leading this latest attempt to keep paid leave in the bill, declined to comment on compromise proposals to bring Manchin on board. Gillibrand’s office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

“It’s more limited. It’s parental leave, so it would be 12 weeks for the parents in the event of the birth of a child, ”Shaheen said.

That would mean leaving aside paid time off protections for workers facing medical emergencies or for those caring for sick family members.

However, the negotiations are still very dynamic. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Told reporters there are many versions of the proposal and the policy is still under discussion. Plus, she said, paid time off is still at risk of being removed from the Democrats’ final bill.

“It doesn’t look good,” Warren said. “Maybe he’s the one with the real problems.”

Paid time off has been on increasingly shaky ground in recent days amid opposition from Manchin, who privately expressed concerns about fraud in the program, and made his concerns very clear about the overall cost. of the Build Back Better package.

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not impose some kind of paid leave and instead relies on the voluntary actions of companies and individual states to support workers who have to take time off work. . The United States requires companies to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Democrats are trying to pass a budget bill that would include major climate policies and tax reforms and invest heavily in social protection, like expanding child care, housing and health care. With such narrow majorities in the House and Senate, they need all 50 senators to sign the final bill and be close to unanimous Democratic support in the House.

Passing the first paid family and medical leave program in the United States was supposed to be one of the crowning glory of Democrats.

Biden’s original proposal was a nationwide paid vacation with partial salary replacement program that would phase in 12 weeks of paid vacation over a 10-year period. The House, led by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Separately developed a roughly $ 500 billion public-private proposal to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for Americans. to take care of a new child or a sick person. loved one, or to deal with a family death or the deployment of a military spouse.

Last week, when Manchin clarified some of his spending concerns, Democrats suggested a significantly smaller, temporary plan that would give workers about four weeks of paid leave.

“It doesn’t make sense to me. … I just can’t do it ”, Manchin told CNN Wednesday, when asked about the paid leave proposal, citing its impact on debt.

Paid time off is an incredibly popular proposition nationwide; 73% of Americans support paid family and medical leave, according to a recent CBS News poll. The need for such a policy became all the more evident during the pandemic, when many workers were forced to choose between coming to work sick or leaving a sick family member unattended, and losing their income.

Congress has established a short-term federal paid leave mandate during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic. When this policy expired, it was followed by some financial incentives for companies to voluntarily offer paid time off to sick workers.

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