Republicans push back on expanding paid family leave beyond federal workers
© Greg Nash

GOP lawmakers on Tuesday pushed back on a proposal that would create a national paid family and medical leave program, signaling Republicans aren’t willing to go beyond paid leave for federal workers in a massive defense policy bill.

Congress and the White House recently struck a deal that would give federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave in exchange for creating President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE’s Space Force.

Some Republicans said Tuesday they are worried about the costs associated with creating a national paid family and medical leave program.

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“We hear a lot of support about the support of the national paid family leave and medical -- and I get that it sounds wonderful -- but at the end of the day there’s nothing free and at some point this has an enormous cost associated with it,” Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceRaffensperger calling for bipartisan federal election reform commission Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Republicans plow forward with election challenges MORE (R-Ga.) said at a House Oversight Committee hearing on parental leave.

Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyHouse passes bill to expand workplace protections for nursing mothers House Oversight Democrats ask NFL for information from investigation into Washington Football Team New York City helicopter complaints skyrocket MORE (D-N.Y.), the chair of the committee, praised the inclusion of her bill, the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that’s awaiting a final vote in Congress.

“Providing this benefit is a significant investment in our future ­– the future of children, parents, families and our future as a nation,” she said at the hearing. “Paid leave yields better outcomes for productivity, health of parents and children, and long-term financial stability. It also contributes to closing the gender wage gap.”

Some Democrats are attempting to use the momentum from the NDAA deal to broaden paid family medical leave beyond government employees. 

Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroWhich proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan? Proposals to reform supports for parents face chopping block On The Money — Democrats eye tough choices as deadline looms MORE (D-Conn.), who re-introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act this year, gave testimony at the hearing, where she argued that broadening paid family and medical leave would help “elevate” middle- and working-class Americans.

“I am so glad that my colleagues on the other side support this in some form,” DeLauro said, referring to the defense policy bill.

She said Congress should provide leave benefits “not only for Senate staffers for House staffers and not only for members of Congress but for everyone in this country to provide them economic security.”