Pressley, DeLauro, Colleagues Urge President Biden to Include Robust Paid Leave Protections in Next COVID Relief Package

February 24, 2021
Press Release
Paid Leave is a Matter of Public Health, Economic Recovery and a Racial, Gender and Economic Justice Issue

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, today 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.

In March of last year, Congress quickly passed an emergency paid sick and childcare leave program, which prevented more than 15,000 COVID-19 cases per day, helped workers and families on the brink hold onto their jobs, care for their families, safely quarantine and recover from a deadly virus, and help small businesses stay afloat. However, as many as 106 million workers were not included in the program, predominantly women, low-wage and essential workers of color, who are already least likely to have paid leave through their employers.

This emergency paid leave policy has since expired, and while President Biden prioritized its reinstatement in the American Rescue Plan, the budget reconciliation process does not support this critical policy. The current bill includes voluntary tax credits for businesses who choose to provide paid leave.

“We cannot emerge from this pandemic and remain one of only two countries in the world with no form of national paid leave. We need a policy that is inclusive and that protects all workers regardless of where they work, where they live, or whom they love,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “This moment, and the working families of America, demand and deserve real and lasting policy change and protection.”

In their letter, the lawmakers described paid leave as an issue of public health, economic recovery, and racial, gender and economic justice, noting that Black and Latinx women are disproportionately supporting their families as frontline workers, and often without paid leave critical to care for a sick family member or take leave when they are sick.

“We call on the Administration and Congressional leadership to make essential work more than a title, but to give essential workers the dignity, respect, and protections they should have had well before a pandemic,” the lawmakers continued in the letter. “Passing and ensuring access to meaningful paid leave is the way to deliver both rescue and recovery. This is the way to bring us together. This is the way we can truly build back better. The cost of our inaction is simply too high.”

“The lack of paid leave in this country was a crisis long before this pandemic, but if we fail to build back better this time, we will have left behind caregivers, parents, essential workers, small businesses, and working families all across this country” said Dawn Huckelbridge, Director of Paid Leave for All. “Paid leave is the key to our long-term health, stability, and prosperity, and we can and must pass it now. Thank you to Representatives Pressley and DeLauro, the nearly 100 other Representatives, and leaders all across the country who recognize the urgency of this moment.”

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 Senate negotiations begin on the next emergency relief package.

Last month, 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.

 

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