The Senate on Wednesday rejected an attempt by Sen. Patty Murray to tack additional paid sick leave onto a coronavirus response bill already passed by the House, but Murray and other Democrats said on a press call that the next relief legislation must have such provisions to win Democratic support.
Murray was joined on the call by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., to say that enhanced sick leave and family medical leave would have to be part of future legislation to respond to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Murray, D-Wash., said she wants to include permanent mandates for up to seven paid sick days and paid family and medical leave.
“This has to be part of any supplemental we do,” said Murray, the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee.
The Senate voted 47-51 to reject Murray’s amendment that would require employers to provide workers 14 days of emergency paid sick leave and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. The Senate later cleared, 90-8, a bill that would appropriate about $3.5 billion in supplemental funding and authorize additional funding to support the federal response to the spread and economic effects of COVID-19, including for paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, diagnostic testing and nutritional assistance. Lawmakers are already talking about a third, broader bill to respond to the pandemic.
Gillibrand suggested that the sick leave provisions, which are also part of draft legislation that she, Murray and DeLauro just introduced, would be a condition to get broader relief legislation through the Senate.
“If it’s not included, I don’t believe Democrats will support the measure,” Gillibrand said.
DeLauro said she had been pushing for paid family medical leave for years, and the COVID-19 pandemic made it clear how much it is needed.
“No one should have to face the impossible choice of keeping a job or taking care of family,” she said.
Murray’s proposal would tap the federal budget to cover the cost of 14 days of emergency paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave during a public health emergency, but DeLauro said the permanent family leave provision would be paid by a fund jointly funded by workers and employers.
DeLauro, who is chairwoman of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, was annoyed that more generous sick leave had been dropped during negotiations over the bill cleared Wednesday.
“The administration fought us tooth and nail on where we are going,” DeLauro said.