Today, on Wednesday, May 17, congressmen and -women from the House and the Senate gathered on Capitol Hill to mark the reintroduction of comprehensive paid family and medical leave legislation—the FAMILY (Family and Medical Insurance Leave) Act—which would finally bring the United States in line with the rest of the world.
The US is one of only six countries on the planet, and the only wealthy nation of those, with no national paid family and medical leave policy. Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, along with 41 colleagues in the Senate and 80 in the House of Representatives, today introduced legislation to pass paid sick leave, and reintroduced a bill to pass paid family and medical leave for workers across America. As an impassioned Representative Rosa DeLauro declared, “We do not take no for an answer. The time is now to do this.”
Rep. DeLauro was speaking alongside Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, who said, “The time is long overdue for Congress to begin listening to the needs of working families and not just big money interests.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the bill’s cosponsor, added, “Without universal paid leave, millions of Americans must choose between their livelihood and the health and well-being of themselves and their families.”
In recognition of the importance and impact of Glamour’s paid leave project, 28 Days, which followed eight women through the first 28 days postpartum, Karina Garcia, one of the mothers who took part, was invited to speak at the press conference. She told a packed crowd, “I had to go back to work six days after giving birth to my daughter. I was not ready. I cannot get that time back. I didn’t have a choice, because I had no paid leave, and we had bills to pay. Paid leave should not be a partisan issue. It’s a social investment in the future, since the future will be determined by all our children.”
Senator Sanders thanked Garcia for sharing her story: “We hear here in Washington a lot of talk about family values. Well, let me give you my perspective on what family values means to me and to our country. When a mother like Karina cannot spend time with a newborn baby during the first weeks and months of her baby’s life and is forced back to work, that is not a family value. That is an attack on everything that a family is supposed to stand for.”
The FAMILY Act has been updated for its reintroduction—the fifth time in 10 years—covering more family members than ever before and including any worker who has earned at least $2,000 in income within a two-year period. The bill would provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. For the first time, the bill also includes a provision for “safe leave” for workers who need paid leave from work to address nonmedical needs in relation to sexual or domestic violence.
The bill was introduced alongside the Healthy Families Act, which would also introduce America’s first ever paid sick leave. Sanders said, “In the richest country in the history of the world, it is a total disgrace that millions of workers are having to choose between their job and caring for their family, their newborn child, or themselves when they are sick and in need of care.”
Glamour has been campaigning to #passpaidleave in partnership with Paid Leave for All. Alongside our award-winning 28 Days paid leave project, we launched a national public awareness campaign, Get Your Sh*t Together, Baby, which launched in April alongside a nationwide petition to #PassPaidLeave.
Earlier in May we also took five of the mothers from our project to Washington, DC, for a powerful and emotional day of storytelling on Capitol Hill, culminating in a roundtable with Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Dan Goldman, Jimmy Gomez, Chrissy Houlahan, Brittany Pettersen, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Lauren Underwood to discuss the urgency of passing paid family and medical leave.
Glamour also cohosted a brunch to celebrate Women’s History Month, where the vice president called for the passing of paid family and medical leave, something President Biden cited as a priority in his State of the Union address in February.
Dawn Huckelbridge, director of Paid Leave for All, told Glamour, “Paid leave is a powerful tool for public health, economic growth, and equity. And thanks to our champions in Congress and a growing movement, we came closer than ever to finally passing paid family and medical leave in the United States. That demand and momentum isn’t slowing. Paid Leave for All and our partners look forward to finishing the job and ensuring every working person has the dignity and security of paid leave.”
With the reintroduction of the FAMILY Act, we’re closer than ever. And in the words of Rep. DeLauro, “The time is now.” #passpaidleave
Originally Appeared on Glamour