Manchin cancels paid vacation, a “personal benefit of the president”


Although polls show paid family leave has strong support among Democrats and Republicans, and many business groups have rallied around the idea, even it couldn’t make the cut then that Democratic leaders rushed to reduce the cost of the bill at Manchin’s insistence. The other moderate they had to appease, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), was not opposed to the inclusion of paid time off.

The White House has repeatedly told defenders that paid time off will have no chance of being included in the Democrats’ reconciliation bill if they don’t put enough pressure on Manchin, more than a half said. – dozen sources.

Over the past year, groups like Paid Leave for the US, Paid Leave for All, the National Partnership for Women and Families, A Better Balance and their partners have taken this to heart, spending a lot of time and money. to influence Manchin in hopes of adopting the country’s first paid vacation policy.

“We kept hearing, ‘You have a Manchin problem,’” said Molly Day, executive director of Paid Leave for the US. “So we continued to dig and engage in all angles of the debate with Senator Manchin.”

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

The effort to bring in Manchin was multimedia and multimodal.

In January, advocates formed a West Virginia coalition to take grassroots action in the senator’s home state. In June, the effort shifted into high gear: Paid time off advocates launched cable and digital ad purchases in the state and arranged for heads of small businesses who support the Advantage to meet the Manchin’s legislative staff.

In late September, group consultants attended a donor dinner for Manchin and “expressly engaged him, as an individual, at length,” Day said.

Day herself buttoned up Manchin on the Amtrak train to New York from Washington, DC last week when she spotted him with his wife sitting a few rows in front.

“I went to introduce myself and spoke to him personally for over 10 minutes about paid time off,” Day said. “He was very cordial.

Manchin expressed concern over the impact of a paid vacation program on small businesses, she said, and that “we just can’t spend that much money.” said he was “compelled by”.

Another time, two attorneys said, a board member made a case with Manchin as he dined on his houseboat, where he lives while in Washington.

The magnitude of those efforts has meant that advocates felt caught off guard this week when paid holidays were removed from the Democrats’ social spending program in the face of Manchin’s opposition.

“You could explain how it all sort of led to this,” said Lelaine Bigelow, vice president of social impact and congressional relations at the National Partnership for Women and Families. “But it still shocks me.”

As late as last week, advocates were in talks with lawmakers and administration officials about efforts to cut the package – efforts the White House told them they had to make, said a source, otherwise the arrangements risk being dropped. the agreement.

President Joe Biden had campaigned to offer 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to all workers, phased in over 10 years, on which he has proposed spending $ 225 billion as part of his US plan for families. The House went even higher, approving $ 494 billion for the plan without phasing in. The Senate wanted spending levels closer to $ 300 billion.

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

“The paid vacation advocate community has been incredibly nimble and flexible in my opinion, including not really blinking when it went from 12 weeks to four weeks,” Day said.

Paid time off carried a lot of weight on the Hill: House Ways and Means President Richard Neal (D-Mass.) Nancy Pelosi’s backing – whenever he gets the chance, said a source familiar with conversations on the Hill.

So, on Wednesday, when Pelosi called Neal and told him that the paid time off was definitely being canceled, it raised the question of whether the White House was putting as much muscle behind benefits as others like childcare, sources said.

Defenders are making a final push to get Manchin on some semblance of paid leave – potentially based on the four-week proposal the White House left outside of its reconciliation framework on Thursday, or at least part of it .

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

Paid Leave to the United States airs a $ 25,000 radio spot in West Virginia and even rented a banner to fly over the resort town of Greenbrier this weekend when Manchin holds a donor retreat there. Supporters plan to work with donors in the House and Senate to step up efforts in Washington next week.

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

The senses. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Among those leading the charge in Congress for paid time off, said they haven’t given up.

“It’s downright shameful that America is the only developed country where workers don’t have guaranteed paid time off if they have a child, get seriously ill, or have to take care of a loved one – and I think I have. been very clear. I will continue to fight to have paid time off included, ”said Murray.

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) Said she would continue to lobby the House side – if not for enactment through reconciliation, then in a subsequent bill.

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

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