Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has stepped up her efforts to give 12 weeks of paid family leave to federal employees.
Maloney reintroduced a bill earlier this year that would give 12 weeks of paid family leave to federal workers for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for an ill family member. This time, however, she has slipped the bill into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 2500) as an amendment in the hopes that it will pass as part of a broader spending bill.
“No person should need to choose between taking care of a loved one or being able to put food on the table,” said Maloney. “Paid family leave is a benefit to the workforce, the government and the nation. The U.S. government should be a model employer, and this bill will help take a big step forward allowing employees to appropriately care for themselves or their families without worrying about job security.”
The NDAA would “authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2020 for military activities of the Department of Defense and for military construction, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes,” according to the lead in summary of the bill’s text.
So what does giving the federal workforce paid family leave have to do with funding military activities for the coming year? It’s not really clear from Maloney’s press release on the amendment.
A summary of the 2020 NDAA touts that the spending bill will “take care of our greatest asset: our [military] service members.” The NDAA as currently written includes a 3.1% pay increase for active duty military members and authorizes military service members to take leave for birth or adoption of a child in more than one increment, for example.
By extension, the lawmakers seem to have lumped paid parental leave for the civilian federal workforce in with the military spending bill, perhaps because it addresses the topic of family leave for active duty military. Arguing for parity with the military is often a way that proponents of legislation for the benefit of the federal workforce will make their case, such as pay parity with the military, i.e. whatever pay raise is given to active duty military members should be given to federal employees as well.
This quote from Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), one of the amendment’s supporters, seems to capture this sentiment:
In the military, it is said you recruit the individual but you retain the family. I was active duty serving in the Air Force while pregnant and with the birth of my first daughter, it was difficult balancing caring for my family and serving my country. And I know many families across our country still face similar situations today. I’m proud to introduce legislation that would institute the first ever federally funded paid-parental-leave act. Our American families deserve nothing less.
Numerous past attempts to give paid family leave to federal employees have so far been unsuccessful. Will tucking the bill into a broader spending package for funding military operations finally get it pushed through Congress? We shall soon see.