Paid parental leave advances in House

The House federal workforce subcommittee on Wednesday passed a bill that would provide federal employees with four weeks of paid leave on the birth or adoption of a child.

During the bill's markup, Democratic committee members and one Republican said the 2009 Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (H.R. 626) would provide an important model to private sector employers. The legislation advances to the full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"This bill would only affect the 1.8 million federal employees, but it is often the federal government that leads the country," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who introduced the legislation. "It is a model project for the country and for federal employees…. As a country that constantly talks about family values, it's a way of putting the reality into the rhetoric."

Maloney introduced similar legislation during the last congressional session. That bill included eight weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, but the full committee amended the bill to reduce the benefit to four weeks. The House passed the bill in 2008, but the Senate did not vote on it.

Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., said he supported the legislation previously and would do so again, because he believes the bill is a good example of how the federal government should make policy for states and localities to emulate.

"One of the things the federal government ought to do more of is lead through example, rather than dictate," he said. "As the largest employer, we can set an example so millions of businesses out there will follow our example, take a look at the bottom line, and see they can have their employees working with their families, not just with their businesses."

Bilbray was the lone Republican at the hearing to speak out in support of the measure. Ranking subcommittee member Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he could not support the bill because there were no hearings on it to date during the current congressional session. Chaffetz said as a freshman representative he was unfamiliar with previous debate on the legislation. Maloney said she would invite Chaffetz to upcoming events in support of the bill.

Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., said the state of the economy made it an inopportune time to extend further benefits to employees.

"At this time, when people in my district can't find a job, to be generous with their money to government employees is an insult," he said. "Maybe you can get away with that argument in normal times, but right now, we shouldn't be more generous to federal employees than [to] most Americans."

But Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., the new chairman of the federal workforce subcommittee, said the economic crisis argued for protecting already vulnerable workers.

"Many families dependent on two incomes are being forced to make ends meet on only one salary," when one spouse takes leave to care for a new child, he said. "This drastically reduces the ability of workers to provide the best care for themselves and their loved ones. Rising gasoline and food prices and falling home values make this situation even more difficult."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.