Manchin blames Senate rules for paid leave’s absence

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pushed back on Tuesday against including paid leave in President Biden’s spending package, arguing that the proposal would run afoul of Senate rules on what can be in the bill.

“I’m working on paid leave. I support paid leave but not in this bill in the way it’s presented because they had to — they really had to adjust the paid leave to fit in to reconciliation,” Manchin said.

“In this bill you can’t get it done because of the constraints we have,” Manchin added.

Democrats are using an arcane budget process known as reconciliation to pass the social and climate spending bill by a simple majority instead of needing to get the 60 votes required for most legislation in the Senate.

But that also places strict restrictions on what can be in the bill, which also has to comply with the Byrd rule that tries to prevent “extraneous matter” from being included in the spending bill.

Democrats initially wanted to include 12 weeks of paid leave in their spending bill, before narrowing it down to four and then dropping the policy from the framework for the scaled-down $1.75 trillion spending bill that the White House released last week.

Democrats are continuing to try to get Manchin to support including a paid leave proposal in the spending bill and pushed back against the idea that the Senate referee had placed limits on including paid leave in the bill.

“He is not the parliamentarian,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told reporters, referring to Manchin.

A senior Democratic aide added that “the parliamentarian has not limited Democrats’ ability to do paid leave through reconciliation.”

Gillibrand indicated that she was now looking at a structure for the reconciliation bill that would be similar to a paid leave proposal she previously proposed that was funded through a payroll tax, which was split by employers and employees.

“I’m still working with Sen. Manchin. He would really, really love a structure that is more akin to Social Security, something where there’s an employer-employee match, something that is self-sustaining. … He prefers that structure,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand added that she didn’t think supporters of including paid leave in reconciliation had hit a parliamentarian roadblock “yet” but that if she can get Manchin’s buy-in for a plan that they would run anything by the Senate referee.

“We have to work within the rules of reconciliation and within the guidelines of President Biden. But I’m working on a formulation now to see if it satisfies all those concerns,” she said. “I think the question is whether this formulation he has in mind satisfies reconciliation. But we’ll check that out.”

Manchin, speaking to reporters, indicated that he wanted a paid leave proposal that included the employer-employee funding split and that could “sustain itself” but that he didn’t think it would pass muster with the parliamentarian.

“We haven’t been able to do that from the standpoint of the parliamentarian,” Manchin said.

Tags Build Back Better Infrastructure Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kirsten Gillibrand paid leave

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