Manchin upends paid leave, a benefit ‘personal to the president’

Although polls show that paid family vacation has strong support from Democrats and Republicans, and many corporate groups have been warming to the idea, even it failed to achieve the cut when Democratic leaders sought to cut the cost of accounting at Manchin’s insistence. The other moderate they had to appease, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Was not against taking paid leave.

The White House had repeatedly told proponents that paid vacation would have no chance of being included in the Democrats’ reconciliation law if they didn’t lobby Manchin hard enough, more than half a dozen sources said.

Over the past year, groups like Paid Vacation for the U.S., Paid Vacation for All, the National Partnership for Women and Families, A Better Balance, and their partners have taken this to heart, spending considerable time and money trying to influence Manchin in hope , which is the country’s first paid vacation scheme.

“We kept hearing, ‘You have a Manchin problem,'” said Molly Day, executive director of Paid Leave for the United States. “So we worked our way further into the debate with Senator Manchin and got involved in all directions.”

Manchin and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The efforts to get Manchin around have been multimedia and multimodal.

In January, advocates formed a coalition in West Virginia to take basic action in the Senator’s home state. Efforts began in full swing in June, with advocates of paid vacation launching cable and digital ad purchases across the state and making arrangements for small business leaders to support the benefit of meeting with the Manchin legislature.

At the end of September, advisors to the groups attended a donor dinner for Manchin and “specifically hired him as an individual,” Day said.

Day himself buttoned Manchin on the Amtrak train from Washington DC to New York last week when she saw him and his wife sitting a few rows in front of them.

“I went and introduced myself and spoke to him in person for more than 10 minutes about paid vacation,” said Day. “He was very welcoming.”

Manchin shared concerns about how a paid vacation program would affect small businesses, she said, and how “we just can’t spend that much money.” said he was “forced”.

Another time, two lawyers said, a board member picked up on Manchin while eating on his houseboat, which is where he lives when he is in Washington.

The breadth of that effort led proponents to feel taken by surprise this week when paid vacation was removed from the Democrats’ social spending package amid Manchin’s opposition.

“You could argue how it all led to it,” said Lelaine Bigelow, vice president of social impact and congressional relations for the National Partnership for Women and Families. “But it’s still shocking to me.”

Just last week, lawyers held talks with lawmakers and administration officials about efforts to downsize the package – efforts the White House told them to board, a source said, or else risk the regulations being dropped Deal.

President Joe Biden had advocated giving all workers 12 weeks of paid family and sick leave, staggered over 10 years, on which he would spend $ 225 billion as part of his American Families Plan. The house went even higher, approving $ 494 billion for the no phase-in plan. The Senate wanted spending near $ 300 billion.

But earlier this month the White House said it needed to be cut to $ 100 billion – enough for just four weeks of paid vacation for lower-income workers, with the program expiring after three to four years.

“The paid vacation advocate community has been incredibly agile and flexible in my opinion, even if they don’t really blink from 12 to four weeks,” said Day.

Paid leave had great power behind it on the hill: House chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) Had made paid leave his # 1 priority and argued with the Senate leadership and the White House – with House spokesman Nancy Pelosis Support – every opportunity he got, said a source familiar with the conversations on the hill.

When Pelosi called Neal on Wednesday and told him the paid vacation was finally canceled, the question arose whether the White House put as much effort into the performance as others as childcare, sources said.

Lawyers are making one final effort to get Manchin on a semblance of paid vacation – possibly based on, or at least part of, the four-week proposal the White House left out of its reconciliation framework on Thursday.

“There are signs that the Senate is still fighting for it; that they believe there is a way; and it’s something Manchin hasn’t completed, ”said Dawn Huckelbridge, director of Paid Leave for All.

U.S. Paid Vacation runs a $ 25,000 radio commercial in West Virginia and has even rented a banner to fly over the Greenbrier Resort this weekend when Manchin holds a donor retreat there. Supporters plan to work with supporters in the House and Senate next week to redouble their efforts in Washington.

“Here we need our partners in the White House and in Congress to also carry water,” said Day.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Among those responsible for paid vacation in Congress, said they had not given up.

“It is downright shameful that America is the only developed country where working people are not guaranteed paid vacation when they have a child, become seriously ill, or care for a loved one – and I think I totally have it Made it clear. “I will continue to fight to get paid vacation inclusive,” said Murray.

MP Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) Said she would continue to push from the House of Representatives – if not through reconciliation, then in a subsequent bill.

“I see this as a missed opportunity,” she said. “But that doesn’t make it your last chance.”

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