by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Jan. 13, 2021
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Could Biden's coronavirus stimulus plan lead to paid time off if you need it?
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to release his proposal for a coronavirus stimulus bill as early as Thursday of this week. The incoming president and other party leaders on the left have made it clear that providing COVID-19 relief is a top priority.
The specific details of Mr. Biden's plan haven't been made public yet. However, it's expected to include billions of dollars in aid to state and local governments, $2,000 stimulus checks, more help for the unemployed, and money for schools and vaccine distribution.
Now, however, some on the left are urging the President-elect to address another important Democratic priority in his bill: paid family leave.
The coronavirus pandemic has left millions of parents across the country scrambling for childcare options as daycares and schools close. Many people have also been forced to quarantine after they, or a close family member, were potentially exposed to COVID-19. With no national sick leave or family leave policy, some Americans in this situation have been forced to risk their financial stability when illness or caregiving needs necessitated taking time off from work.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided as much as 10 weeks of family and medical leave at two-thirds of regular pay. However, this policy expired and has not been renewed. As a result, a number of advocacy groups are urging Biden to include paid leave provisions in his additional coronavirus relief plans. One of those groups, PL+US, is actively lobbying key members of the incoming president's teams. It wants to pressure the administration to make paid time off a key part of the next coronavirus bill.
"The Biden-Harris administration has made caregiving and the caregiving economy central to the nation’s economic recovery plans," wrote the legislative director for PL+US. "Now is the time to seize the bipartisan momentum for paid leave to provide economic security to families and businesses, protect public health, and support our nation’s economic recovery."
There's a good chance the Biden team could respond to these pleas with concrete action. The president-elect indicated he plans to propose a large-scale relief bill with a high price tag in order to address the substantial ongoing need. Paid leave provisions would be in keeping with his ambitious goal to make a meaningful difference in jumpstarting the economy.
However, Biden's stimulus package is already expected to cost trillions of dollars. As such, it will be difficult to garner support from Republicans. Democrats can pass a COVID-19 bill with a simple majority through a process called reconciliation, but they can't lose any Democratic votes if they wish to do so. Some conservative Democrats are already expressing reservations about spending billions on more stimulus checks, which means it may be a hard sell to drive up the cost of the legislation further by tacking on a costly paid family leave provision.
Still, prior coronavirus legislation did include paid time off, and this has been a top Democrat priority for a long time. The Biden administration may feel it would be a missed opportunity if they don't at least attempt to include it.
Until Biden releases his formal proposal, Americans waiting for more money in their bank accounts and more help from lawmakers will simply have to keep their eyes on Washington D.C. But don't be surprised if his plan does include at least some type of paid leave for those who need it.
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