Senate

Democrats drop paid leave from Biden spending framework

Democrats and the White House have dropped paid leave out of President Biden's spending plan, in a blow to progressives.

Paid parental and medical leave was not included in documents circulated by the White House early Thursday detailing what's in the spending framework that Biden is expected to pitch to House Democrats.

The paid leave proposal has been in limbo for days, with sources telling The Hill on Wednesday that it was expected to be left out of the framework as Democrats and the White House scrambled to reach a deal.

The decision to omit paid leave from the framework is unlikely to be the end of the fight among Democrats.

Democratic senators ramped up their efforts on Wednesday night to get Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to agree to support the inclusion of a paid leave program in the spending bill.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) vowed to continue her lobbying effort, describing the completion of the bill, not the framework, as her deadline to get Manchin's support.

"He's looking into the details, and he said he would remain open-minded," Gillibrand said on Wednesday night.

"We are continuing to negotiate in good faith, and we'll try to get a robust paid leave package in the bill ... by the time the bill closes," she added.

Democrats had initially hoped to get 12 weeks of paid leave into the bill. But the latest offer from Democrats including Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would include four weeks of paid family leave for workers who become new parents and who already have a year on the job.

A source familiar with the discussions, however, described Manchin as "firm" in his opposition to including a paid leave program, noting that "many members" had been lobbying him.

Manchin on Wednesday night said that he would take a look at new offers from his colleagues but signaled concern about including paid leave in the spending bill, a sign of the uphill battle Democrats could face to get him on board.

"To put this into a reconciliation bill, major policy, is not the place to do it," Manchin told reporters.

Asked if he was saying paid leave was out of the bill, he added, "I'm just saying we have to be careful what we're doing. If we're going to do it, do it right."

Manchin's opposition has sparked frustration from some of his colleagues.

"What I don't like is this idea that one guy would stand in the way of doing it," Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told MSNBC Thursday morning.

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