Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., is one of the lawmakers introducing the amendment.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., is one of the lawmakers introducing the amendment. Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP file photo

House Democrats Aim to Add Paid Family Leave for Feds to Defense Policy Bill

A proposed amendment to the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would provide all federal workers with 12 weeks of paid family leave.

House Democrats will attempt to amend the annual Defense authorization bill to provide all federal employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave when lawmakers consider the bill following the July 4 recess.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.; Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa.; and Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, announced last week that they would include the amendment when the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act comes to the floor for debate later this month.

The amendment mirrors language in the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (H.R. 1534), introduced by Maloney in March. The bill would provide 12 weeks of paid leave to any federal employee related to the birth, adoption or fostering of a child, or to help care for a child, parent or spouse with a serious health condition.

Feds would also be able to take 12 weeks of paid leave if they experience a serious health condition, or because of an “urgent need” related to a spouse, child or parent’s call to active duty in the armed forces.

The annual Defense authorization act is a popular vehicle for lawmakers to adopt governmentwide personnel policy changes. The Senate approved its version of the bill, which includes a 3.1% pay raise for military service members and reforms the security clearance process, last week.

“No person should need to choose between taking care of a loved one or being able to put food on the table,” Maloney said in a statement. “Paid family leave is a benefit to the workforce, the government and the nation. The U.S. government should be a model employer, and this bill will help take a big step forward allowing employees to appropriately care for themselves or their families without worrying about job security.”

Maloney for years has introduced legislation to provide paid family leave to federal employees, thus far unsuccessfully. Then-Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., also introduced a paid parental leave bill last year, although it too did not receive a vote in the House. This new effort marks the first time in recent years that advocates have attempted to include paid family leave as a provision of a defense authorization bill.

Federal employee unions applauded the effort to include paid leave provisions in the authorization bill.

“AFGE strongly supports the Maloney/Houlahan amendment on federal employee paid leave,” said J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “No federal employee should have to choose between caring for a loved one and receiving a paycheck.”

“This common-sense benefit is long overdue for the federal workforce,” National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon said. “At no time should a federal employee be forced to choose between family and a paycheck and we urge adoption of the amendment and swift passage of this program in Congress.”