Lawmakers are close to reaching a deal on the annual defense authorization bill that for the first time will include paid family leave for federal workers.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democratic negotiators have secured a tentative agreement for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to include a significant provision requiring 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all federal employees, a congressional source familiar with the negotiations told CNN. A Republican source also confirmed that paid leave would be included in the bill, which is not yet finished.
Republicans have resisted including the measure in the bill, according to the congressional source. The Washington Post on Friday, citing four people with knowledge of the deal, reported the paid family leave provision was agreed to in exchange for making “Space Force” the sixth branch of the US military.
Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, however, expressed strong support for the provision on behalf of the White House.
“As the country’s largest employer, the United States Government must lead by example. After 3 years of relentless advocacy, the passage of the NDAA will secure Paid Parental Leave for ALL federal employees,” she said in a statement on Friday. “This will mark a HUGE step forward towards making paid leave a reality for all Americans. This new policy represents another incredible win for millions of hard-working American families courtesy of President Trump!”
The first daughter has met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on the topic of paid family leave during her time as a senior adviser to the President, part of her neatly-tailored West Wing portfolio focused on women’s economic empowerment and workforce development.
The White House sought to give her credit for the news.
“Over the last three years, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump has met with more than 60 lawmakers to ensure that paid family leave policies are on the table. During the last few weeks, those advocacy efforts have ramped up even further, resulting in today’s exciting news,” a White House official said.
While a provision for federal workers is a step forward, a bipartisan deal on paid family leave for all Americans could still be a heavy lift in Congress, with Democrats and Republicans still split on how to pay for it and how broad a national paid leave policy should be.
In the past four years, the number of lawmakers supportive of paid family leave has more than doubled. In the previous 115th Congress, 205 members of Congress signed onto some type of paid family leave legislation, compared to just 80 members of Congress in the 111th.
Earlier this week, Trump expressed support for bipartisan, bicameral paid leave legislation introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Colin Allred of Texas, saying the White House “applauds” their efforts.