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Paid leave not a priority for GOP, Dem says

Paid leave not a priority for GOP, Dem says
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Senate Democrats are renewing their push for paid sick leave, but Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyLawmakers feel pressure on guns Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting MORE (D-Conn.) said they are not “wildly optimistic” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will schedule a vote on the Healthy Families Act anytime soon.

“We have not seen yet that it’s a priority for Republican leadership,” he said.

The bill first introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in February would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven paid sick days each year to recover from an illness, care for family member, or attend school meetings related to a child’s health condition or disability. Workers in businesses with less than 15 employees would earn up to seven job-protected unpaid sick days a year.

A total of 61 senators, including 15 Republicans, supported the measure in an amendment to the Senate Republican budget adopted in late March. But Murphy, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said it's important to look at which Republicans supported that amendment.  

“You had Republicans who were going to be asking for votes from their constituents in the short-term rushing to support paid sick leave,” he said. “Why? Because they know this is an issue that enjoys broad support back in their state. “

On the heels of Mother's Day, Murray, Murphy and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) joined representatives from Young Invincibles, an advocacy group for 18- to 34-year-olds, on Tuesday morning in pushing again for paid leave.

“We’re six years out of the Great Recession, but we’re still feeling ripple effects that disproportionately hurt young people,” said Jennifer Wang, Young Invincibles policy director. “One in five young parents live in poverty today.”

A factor contributing to this trend, she said, is the rising cost of childcare. Education and childcare expenses now represent 18 percent of the cost of raising a child, compared to 2 percent in 1960.

“That doesn’t even include the skyrocketing costs of sending a child to college,” Wang said.

In addition to paid leave, Murray pushed her Raise the Wage Act, which would push the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. Murphy also announced plans to reintroduce the Schedules that Work Act to force companies to establish fair and reasonable workplace scheduling practices.

“It’s a simple piece of legislation that tells just employers they can’t fire workers simply because they request a scheduling change,” he said. “And for bigger companies, that you have to give schedules a couple of weeks ahead of time, understanding that schedules can change and will change, but you at least have to make an effort to tell people ahead of time what they’re schedule is going to be.”