Biden says paid leave proposal reduced from 12 to 4 weeks
President Biden said definitively on Thursday that his proposal for paid family and medical leave has been reduced from 12 weeks to four weeks in a compromise reconciliation bill being negotiated by the White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“It is down to four weeks,” Biden said at a CNN town hall Thursday evening when asked about the proposed program. “The reason it’s down to four weeks is I can’t get twelve weeks.”
The paid leave program is one of various provisions of the package that Democrats are scaling back in order to reduce the price tag. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have both objected to the original price tag of $3.5 trillion floated by Democrats.
Biden’s admission that Americans would be eligible for four weeks of paid family or medical leave under the compromise proposal is sure to disappoint lawmakers and others who have advocated forcefully for the program to provide better support for working parents and others dealing with medical emergencies.
He also explicitly acknowledged that the package would not include his proposal for two years of tuition-free community college, but he insisted that he would try again to get it passed.
“We’re going to get free community college in the next several years,” Biden said.
Biden said at the start of the town hall that he believes he will get a deal on the sweeping package, which encapsulates his economic agenda, but wouldn’t say whether it would happen before he departs for an overseas trip at the end of next week. Democrats initially hoped to have a deal on a framework by the end of this week but that appeared unlikely on Thursday.
Biden also made clear that the details of the package will not be finalized until there is a deal.
“Nothing has been formally agreed to,” he said.