May 22,2019

Grassley, Wyden Convene Finance Committee Paid Family Leave Working Group

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ranking Member Ron Wyden of Oregon today announced the formation of a bipartisan Finance Committee working group that will consider the issue of federal paid family leave policy.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. of Louisiana and Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire will serve as co-chairs of the working group.

Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Todd Young of Indiana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio will serve as members. Grassley and Wyden will also serve as ex-officio members.

The paid family leave working group will meet regularly and devise a list of principles on which all members reach agreement by consensus. Members will consider:

  • Existing paid family leave plans and any gaps in coverage;
  • Opportunities to make paid family leave more widely available;
  • The type of benefit, criteria for eligibility, wage replacement rate, protections for workers and other parameters of coverage;
  • Potential funding mechanisms and potential offsets; and
  • The possibility of reaching consensus on legislation in this area.

“Most parents work outside the home and childcare costs are a burden for many families. The first months of life are a critical period for newborns. We should take a look at any policy that might help in their development,” Grassley said. “It’s been several decades since we’ve updated federal family leave laws. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both parties to explore ideas.”

“It is unacceptable that so many people are forced to choose between their jobs and their health or family. I am committed to advancing policies that comprehensively address paid family leave and make it easier for everyone to balance work and family without sacrificing their current lives or jeopardizing their futures,” Wyden said. “We have a big job to do and it’s going to take as many big thinkers working on this as we can get.”

“This working group reflects the widespread interest in helping moms and dads have financial flexibility to raise children,” Cassidy said. “The policy must be fiscally sustainable and not bury taxpayers in even more red ink. We will find a bipartisan solution that empowers families and business owners to succeed.”

“I look forward to being a part of this working group to attempt to find a bipartisan path forward to ensure that no American is forced to make the impossible choice between making ends meet and having the necessary time to care for a loved one or navigate a personal health crisis,” Hassan said.

Employers in every state must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which has not been updated since its enactment 25 years ago. Certain employees are entitled to up to 12 work weeks of parental, family or medical leave in a 12-month period. The statute includes no requirement that such leave be paid time off.

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over federal tax policy and significant federal health care policy. The working group will consider ideas and principles relating to the issue of paid family leave and will also consider existing legislation introduced by several senators on and off the committee and from both parties.