EPPC Fellow Submits Comments to Congress on Paid Family Leave

February 1, 2024

EPPC fellow Patrick T. Brown recently submitted comments on paid leave, in response to a request for information from a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional working group.

Brown, a former Congressional staffer and a fellow in EPPC’s Life and Family Initiative, focused his public comments on the compelling case for a targeted investment in paid parental leave, giving new parents a little cushion against the demands of the economy in the days and weeks after childbirth.

“A society can be fairly judged on how family-friendly it is, including how easy we make it to have a child,” Brown wrote. “A focused proposal, geared at giving new parents some insulation from the demands of the market economy at a time when baby is hardly sleeping through the night, mom is still physically recovering, dad may be caring for them both, and the family’s income has become more variable, can attract support across the aisle.”

In contrast to more “comprehensive” approaches to paid leave, which would devote the bulk of their benefits to personal sick leave and time off to care for others, Brown recommended that the members of the Congressional working group focus on the broadly-popular and specific needs of new parents. In particular, his comment stresses, any federal paid parental leave program “should recognize the fundamental asymmetry at work in reproduction.”

As we can all agree, pregnant moms are asked to bear unique physical, psychological, and emotional burdens during pregnancy that their partners do not; their postpartum recovery is similarly more demanding . . . The military recognizes this distinction, offering Maternity Convalescent Leave that is available in addition the more general parental leave available to all service members. A federal paid parental leave policy should offer the same approach.

In addition, a benefit focused squarely on new parents would keep the impact on the federal budget deficit low at a time of rising deficits; reduce the risk of fraud or misuse; and, if constructed properly, support all parents regardless of their career track or preferred work-life balance.

The Congressional working group on paid leave is made up of Senators Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wy.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Az.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.); and Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), Stephanie Bice (R-Ok.), Colin Allred (D-Tex.), Julia Letlow (R-La.), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), and Haley Stevens (D-Mich.).

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