Joan Lunden presses lawmakers to support paid family leave legislation
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Former “Good Morning America” host Joan Lunden is calling on Congress to pass legislation providing family and medical leave, saying the positive experience she had after giving birth to her first child should be one that’s enjoyed by all Americans.

Speaking at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Tuesday, Lunden recalled how her previous employer, ABC News, allowed her to not only take paid time off to care for her infant daughter, but also permitted her to bring her daughter to work.

Lunden said that women across the country at the time sent her letters explaining how meaningful benefits like hers would be in their own lives. Forty years later, Lunden, 69, said she is receiving Facebook messages instead of letters, but that families have the same desire — to take paid time off to care for family members or themselves.
 
“Perhaps it was me being in that wonderful position that lit a fire in me to embark on a path as a woman and family advocate,” Lunden told lawmakers. 
 
 
“Families everywhere are counting on you, Congress, to enact this type of comprehensive paid family medical leave that will help all of us when we need it the most,” Lunden said.

The legislation would provide 12 weeks of partial income for family leave. Funding would come through a payroll tax.
 
Congress passed legislation last year that would provide family and medical leave for federal workers.

While there was general bipartisan support among Ways and Means members for paid family medical leave beyond federal workers, they differed on how it should be paid for. Democrats overwhelmingly support the payroll tax model, but Republicans proposed other funding mechanisms.

The leading Republican proposal, known as the New Parents Act of 2019, would allow parents to use Social Security benefits following the birth or adoption of a child.

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“There are many options beyond a one-size-fits-all entitlement program that layers over states and burdens companies that already offer paid leaves,” said Rep. Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Democrats seek to preempt Trump message on health care | E-cigarette executives set for grilling | Dems urge emergency funding for coronavirus Democrats slam GOP on drug prices in bilingual digital ads Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — Dems warn Trump against Medicaid block grants | Sanders under pressure on how to pay for 'Medicare for All' | China to allow in US health officials to study coronavirus MORE (R-Mo.), a co-sponsor of the GOP bill.

Other Republicans criticized the payroll tax approach.

“A lot of people, 62 percent of Americans, live paycheck to paycheck,” Rep. Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE (R-Fla.) said. “You can’t put more taxes and add to the burden any more.”