Pressley, Houlahan, DeLauro, Chu Lead Effort to Secure Paid Family Leave for Every Worker

July 19, 2021
Press Release
In letter to House Leadership, Lawmakers push for paid family leave for working families across the United States

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) and Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) have launched an effort to pass a universal, comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy as part of the Build Back Better infrastructure package.

“As we work to rebuild our economy, we must address structural inequities that were major drivers of crisis and economic instability in the pandemic,” wrote the lawmakers in a letter to House leadership. “Investments in care infrastructure and policies that support workers, such as paid leave, are critical to an equitable recovery for all workers. The American Rescue Plan laid important groundwork for lasting, equitable change and delivered results for America’s women and families. We look forward to expanding those investments to rebuild our country’s care infrastructure, including with universal, comprehensive paid family and medical leave.”

Nearly 100 lawmakers have joined this effort – a testament to the energy behind this crucial priority.

“Universal and permanent paid leave is a matter of public health, racial, gender, economic and disability justice,” said Rep. Pressley in a statement alongside the letter. “We owe it to our workers and families nationwide to invest in paid leave as the critical infrastructure that it is, and I am grateful to Congresswomen Houlahan, DeLauro and Chu for their partnership in this fight.”

“Since coming to Congress, I have made paid family and medical leave a priority,” said Houlahan. “In my first year in Congress, I led an effort alongside Representatives Adam Smith and Carolyn Maloney to guarantee paid leave federal workers. It was an important starting point, and this effort is a necessary next step towards our ultimate goal – a paid family and medical leave program interwoven into the foundation of our nation’s infrastructure. This is an investment in working families, and consequently, in our economic growth. Right now, we have the responsibility to seize on this transformative opportunity in our nation’s history. We’re not just trying to restore our economy; we’re trying to make it even better – more accessible, equitable, and fair for every American. I’m grateful to the 87 other members who have joined my in this effort, and to my co-leads, Representatives Rosa L. DeLauro, Judy Chu and Ayanna Pressley for their steadfast commitment to this pressing issue.”  

“There has never been a more urgent need to establish a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program for the workers of this country,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “For decades, there has been a desperate need for paid family and medical leave – a need worsened by the pandemic. We have the opportunity to build the architecture for the future, but without a permanent paid leave solution, workers are at risk of losing their livelihoods, and our economic recovery is at risk of stalling. Women and communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by this crisis, often forced to make the impossible decision between caring for themselves or their families and earning a paycheck. Paid leave is not a fringe issue or a work perk— it is a lifeline. Now is the time to invest in programs, such as comprehensive and immediate paid family and medical leave and not leave millions of working families in the cold again.”

“Beyond an emergency response to the pandemic, paid family leave remains a vital need as we get our country back to work, especially for the women of America who have been forced out of the workforce in unprecedented numbers,” said Rep. Chu. “Parents need to have the flexibility to take care of themselves or their families when they’re sick and not risk their safety, their coworkers’ safety, or their own careers. I’m proud to join this call for a robust paid family leave policy that works for our families and our economy.”

This effort has been endorsed by National Partnership for Women & Families, Indivisible, Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US), A Better Balance, Family Values @ Work, Main Street Alliance, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Bread for the World, TIME’S UP Now and Union for Reform Judaism.

“Paid family and medical leave would give working people the time they need to welcome a new child, care for a loved one or to take care of themselves, without fear of losing pay or the threat of losing their job,” said Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families. “This policy is essential for all families, communities, and businesses to thrive, and I am grateful for the more than 80 members of Congress who are committed to making paid leave a reality this year.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.

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.

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