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American families, women to bear the brunt as new relief bill does not extend paid and family leave

Despite the success of emergency paid sick and family leave during the pandemic, Republicans refuse to extend the program to help American families.

American families, women to bear the brunt as new relief bill does not extend paid and family leave
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 08: Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media on December 8, 2020 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

When the new Coronavirus relief bill is passed by Congress, there won't be an extension on paid family and sick leave, which will hurt American families. The $900 billion relief proposal was unveiled by a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday morning. Among many things, the bill includes unemployment relief, money for vaccine distribution, and funds to help feed hungry Americans ahead of what looks to be an unforgiving winter. The omission of paid family and sick leave benefits have angered Public health and women’s advocates. The benefits were originally passed by Congress in March and benefitted many families. “It’s an affront to all reason,” said Vicki Shabo, a senior fellow at New America who specializes in paid family leave, reported The Huffington Post. “It’s beyond incomprehensible, short-sighted, and ridiculous given the public health benefits that are proven and the growing number of parents home with kids.” 


Congress pulled the rug from under American families as Coronavirus appears to be peaking with the country recording 3,124 deaths on Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. the highest single-day death toll since the pandemic started. It is the first time the US has recorded more than 3,000 deaths in a single day. More than 220,000 Coronavirus cases were also confirmed on Wednesday. Hospitalizations were at a record roughly two weeks from Thanksgiving, reported The Guardian.


The sick leave enables workers who contract Coronavirus or suspect to have been exposed to it, to take up to two weeks paid time off. The family leave policy applied to parents who needed to be home with children who attended virtual school or whose daycare or school is closed. They were provided with up to 12 weeks off, with 10 of those weeks being partially paid. The benefits helped limit the spread of the virus as the employees who suspected to have contracted the virus took leave, found a study. It was also beneficial for companies as it helped them through the crisis. The family leave policy helped working parents, especially mothers, to keep their jobs while looking after their children during this difficult time. Close to 2.2 million women have lost their jobs on account of the pandemic.


“The idea that you would remove the incentive they would have to provide a safe workspace is, again, mind-boggling,” said Vicki Shabo. "If they let one of our most cost-effective and impactful tools to fight Coronavirus expire as the pandemic is peaking, they’re ignoring the needs of their voters, small businesses and working families everywhere,” added Dawn Huckelbridge, director of Paid Leave for All. House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi are still fighting to include paid leave provision in the final bill. Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been an obstacle to direct stimulus checks, paid leaves, and the family leave policy. Mitch McConnell has been accused of looking out for the interests of corporates and businesses alone. "Pelosi and others are fighting for it,” said Ellen Bravo, a strategic advisor for Family Values @Work, a network of advocacy groups. “We, unfortunately, have a Senate majority leader who’s trying to bully his way on protecting corporations while ignoring workers.”

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 08: Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after the Republican's weekly senate luncheon in the US Capitol on December 8, 2020 in Washington, DC. McConnell spoke on the ongoing Coronavirus relief package legislation. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)


“Senate Republicans have resisted meaningful policy change for two key issues — paid leave and child care — that are critical for women, their families, and overall economic growth,” said Shilpa Phadke, vice president of the women’s initiative at the Center for American Progress. “This is just another example of how Senate Republicans continue to dismiss and ignore what women and families need.”


With the Senate races on January 5th set to decide who controls the upper house of Congress, it's unlikely that Americans will get a second round of stimulus checks this year. Despite Democrats pushing Republicans to consider the gravity of the health and financial crisis in the country, the GOP members have refused to agree to the second round of direct payments. The latest proposal put forth by Republicans doesn't include money for direct payments, reported CNN. Democrats will be hoping to win the Senate races in Georgia to gain the majority in the upper house of Congress.

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