POLITICS

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: If Congress Gets 3 Months' Parental Leave, So Should Everyone

The freshman lawmaker emphasized that her ”‘unusual" leave policy applies to both mothers AND fathers on her staff.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Friday trumpeted her office’s parental leave policy, which gives new parents three months of paid time off.

In a Twitter thread, the freshman lawmaker emphasized that her ”‘unusual’ (but shouldn’t be)” leave policy applies to both mothers and fathers on her staff. Two weeks, which she characterized as “normal” parental leave, “is NOT okay!”

“As my partner says: ‘What do employers expect those new moms to do? Walk it off?’” she added.

Policies for congressional offices regarding paid time off for new parents are set by each lawmaker. The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees many staffers 12 weeks off for medical reasons or family matters, but the time is unpaid and employees must meet certain criteria to qualify, including having worked for their employer for at least a year.

House lawmakers are interested in studying a 12-week paid leave policy, Roll Call reported Wednesday. A committee report that will accompany the 2020 House legislative branch appropriations bill cites “interest among Members of Congress to investigate the feasibility of implementing a standard House-wide paid family leave policy.”

The U.S. is the world’s only industrialized country without a paid parental leave policy for workers. 

The Senate in April began considering a bipartisan federal paid family leave program, according to Vox. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has said he’s working with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on a solution.

President Donald Trump proposed six weeks of paid family leave in his 2020 budget, which also called for $1 billion in funding for child care programs.

Paid family leave access still remains low among private industry workers. In March 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said a mere 13 percent were entitled to the benefit.

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