Skip to Main

October 19, 2021

Pressley, 100+ House Democrats Urge President Biden to Protect Paid Leave in Build Back Better Act

Text of Letter (PDF)


WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) along with Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), led 105 House Democrats on a letter urging President Biden to defend robust paid family and medical leave provisions in the ongoing negotiations over the Build Back Better Act. The signatories represent a broad ideological swathe of the House Democratic Caucus. 

In July 2021, Rep. Pressley, along with Reps. Houlahan, Rosa L. DeLauro and Chu, launched an effort to pass a universal, comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy as part of the Build Back Better infrastructure package. 

In their letter today, the lawmakers wrote: 

“We write to express our support for maintaining robust paid family and medical leave in the final reconciliation package. Paid leave is a top priority for us and the workers we represent. 

“The need to take leave is inevitable over the course of a lifetime, whether to care for a loved one with a serious medical condition, welcome a new family member, as in the birth or adoption of a child, or to handle a personal health crisis. Without universal paid leave, as our population ages, more and more workers will find themselves forced to choose between dealing with family and health challenges and staying in the workforce. Yet, the United States is the only Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country that does not require paid leave for new mothers, is one of only two OECD countries that does not require paid medical leave, and is increasingly out of step with its peer countries who now offer caregiving leave. 


“Furthermore, we cannot ignore the economic benefits of paid leave. Enacting paid leave also means that families will continue to earn some income at the very time when they need it most – when a family is growing or a member is sick and needs medical care. Workers will be able to continue to earn a portion of their wages, allowing them to continue to meet their basic needs and pay bills before returning to work. Moreover, lack of paid leave has meant that workers lose an estimated $22.5 billion in wages each year when that could have been used to keep a family afloat and spent in local economies. 


“Lack of paid family and medical leave has a particularly detrimental impact on women’s economic security, as women are more likely than men to serve as primary caregivers and are therefore more likely to need paid time off to ensure that their children or other family members receive the medical care and attention that they need. Paid leave also increases women’s labor force participation and attachment, which is a key driver of economic growth.” 

From the onset of the pandemic, Congresswoman Pressley has led efforts in Congress to extend and expand emergency paid leave protections. 

In April 2020, Reps. Pressley and DeLauro, along with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA), introduced the PAID Leave Act (Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave Act), a comprehensive emergency paid sick, paid family and medical leave bill to provide additional financial support to our nation’s most vulnerable workers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and future public health emergencies. 

In May 2020, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Haley Stevens (MI-22) led a group of 17 freshman Members of Congress calling on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to expand paid family and medical leave as part of the HEROES Act. 

In January 2020, Reps. Pressley and DeLauro and Sens. Gillibrand and Murray sent a letter urging the incoming Biden administration and congressional leadership to extend and expand the COVID-19 emergency paid leave provisions that expired at the end of last year. 

In February 2021, Reps. Pressley and DeLauro led 96 of their House colleagues in writing to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris urging them to include meaningful and permanent paid leave in the next COVID-19 recovery package, and partner with Congress to make these protections a reality in America.