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 TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call 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 HiceGeorgia elections chief refutes election claims in letter to Congress READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Pence 'welcomes' efforts of lawmakers to 'raise objections' to Electoral College results MORE (R-Ga.) said at a House Oversight Committee hearing on parental leave.

Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyDemocrats urge tech giants to change algorithms that facilitate spread of extremist content Hillicon Valley: Biden names acting chairs to lead FCC, FTC | Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review | Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler 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 DeLauroDemocrats eye bill providing permanent benefits of at least K per child Jill Biden visits Capitol to thank National Guard Biden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds 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.”