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Paid family leave stalls in Congress

Joe Manchin
Posted at 3:00 AM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 07:25:15-05

CHARLESTON, W.V.  — Should parents be paid for taking time off following the birth of a child?

While some companies and states offer paid leave programs, it currently isn't mandated at the federal level, which means many workers across the country don't have access to it.

NEW MOMS AND CHILDREN IMPACTED

Natalie Welling is the mother of six-week-old Lenux.

Welling is already back at work.

"I went back two weeks ago when he was four weeks," she said. "My employer doesn't offer any paid family leave."

Lenux was delivered through a surrogate, so Welling isn't eligible for short-term disability.

The U.S. continues to be one of the only major countries in the world without nationwide mandated paid leave.

In the four weeks Welling stayed home, she only received job protection.

"Everything was unpaid, I received nothing but job security," Welling said.

CONGRESS ACTION OR INACTION

It appeared for a moment this year that Congress would pass paid leave benefits.

The House of Representatives included four weeks of paid leave in their version of the Build Back Better bill that passed in November.

However, every indication is that it will be scrapped before the Senate votes on the bill.

West Virginia's Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, is one reason why.

Manchin has said paid family leave doesn't belong in the social spending bill. He claims it should be addressed in a separate, bipartisan bill.

Manchin's support is needed for the Build Back Better Act to become law.

Welling lives in West Virginia and is Manchin's constituent.

"It's very sad," she said. "We want parents to work like they don't have children, but parent like they don't have a job."

MANCHIN OPPOSITION

To understand Manchin's opposition, one must first understand the politics in West Virginia.

"We are a very Republican state in West Virginia. We gave Donald Trump the second-highest percentage of the vote in 2020," said John Findlay, the executive director of the West Virginia Republican Party.

Findlay said Manchin is the only Democrat currently holding a statewide office. His group has been pushing Manchin to vote no on as many Democratic ideas as possible, and he thinks it's working.

"Our job is to pressure Joe Manchin," Findlay said.

Millions are being spent on television commercials in West Virginia in an effort to lobby Manchin.

"If he votes 'stop,' he might be reelected," Findlay added. "If he votes with the Biden agenda, he will lose."