WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has revealed a lot of policy ideas over the last several months, but actually getting them passed into law has proven to be more difficult.
One such idea involves paid family leave and the ability to take paid time off from work to care for a sick loved one or celebrate the addition of a new child.
How it would work
Biden's plan for paid family leave, which was included in the American Families Plan, calls for 12 weeks of partially paid time off when you or a loved one needs medical attention. It would also include time for the birth of a new child.
Biden's plan would not give full wages. Instead, a percentage of weekly pay would be given with the amount varying by income levels. No American would receive more than $4,000 a week.
The estimated cost is $225 billion. Biden wants taxes to go up on high income earners in order to pay for it.
Can it pass Congress?
Whether or not this idea can pass Congress is still unclear.
Bipartisan talks with GOP leaders and Biden over infrastructure broke down earlier this week before the president left for Europe. Negotiations are continuing between the White House and another group of bipartisan senators.
It's unclear if Democrats will try to combine ideas, like paid family leave, into one massive spending bill for infrastructure projects or keep the idea separate. A number of Republicans believe it will be combined and have objected to Democrats including this as part of so-called "human infrastructure" proposals.
"This ain't infrastructure," Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, said on the floor of the House recently about the social programs included in the Democratic plan.
Democrats across the country say their definition of "infrastructure" includes:— Rep. Pat Fallon (@RepPatFallon) April 22, 2021
-Eradicating Right to Work Environments
THIS AIN’T INFRASTRUCTURE! pic.twitter.com/SPv7jgDWnH
Democrats could pass spending programs like paid family leave into law without a single Republican vote, however, that would require nearly every Democrat in the House and every Democrat in the Senate to be on board.
The calls for paid family leave
A number of groups have said it's past time for the U.S. to enact a paid family leave policy like other nations of its size and economic strength. The U.S. is the wealthiest country on earth without a paid family leave program.
Gayle Goldin, with Family Values At Work, says the theory that the private sector would figure this out has failed.
"If this could be solved in the private sector through businesses, we would have it already," Goldin said.
Meanwhile, a number of cancer survivors have spoken up in support of the proposals, like Permelia Toney-Boss.
Toney-Boss was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, and her daughter had to take unpaid time off to care for her.
"I needed someone to be with me most of the time," Toney-Boss said. "She had to take a lot of time without pay."
Since that time, Toney-Boss' state of New Jersey has passed paid family leave at the state level, giving her security should the cancer return.
However, Toney-Boss says paid family leave is only mandated in a few states right now, and every American should be covered.
"A lot of people have this same situation," Toney-Boss said.