Yet another key Democratic agenda item will, in all likelihood, fail to make it into the reconciliation package, thanks to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). As Jordain Carney and Naomi Jagoda reported for The Hill on Wednesday evening that paid family leave is going to be cut. They cited the confirmation from "two sources familiar with the talks." A second source said Manchin is "firm" in his opposition.
Initially, the bill planned to included 12 weeks of paid family leave, which was then cut to 4 weeks. Now it looks like there will be none.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), whose tweet in April claiming that paid family leave was infrastructure was mocked, tweeted out a one sentence response over Twitter that she is going to continue to fight for paid family leave to be included in the bill.
Manchin's concerns are to do with "entitlement" programs. He has consistently made clear that he needs the cost of the bill to get far down below its $3.5 trillion price tag before he signs off.
As Carney and Jagoda noted in their reporting:
Manchin's opposition comes as he's raised concerns about expanding social benefits, arguing that the country can't become an "entitlement society." Asked about including the paid leave program, he told reporters on Wednesday "I just can't do it."
"To expand social programs when you have trust funds that aren't solvent, they're going insolvent. I can't explain that. It doesn't make sense to me," Manchin said.
With Republicans united in their opposition, and Democrats only having a majority in the 50-50 Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote, Democrats need all of their members on board.
The United States is one of the few nations in the world which does not have a federal policy on paid family leave.
The omission will likely be an awkward one for Sec. of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who has been away on paternity leave after he and his husband adopted newborn twins. Buttigieg, and the administration, have spun the narrative of questions and concerns to do with the secretary's absence during supply chain issues to be about a promotion of paid family leave.
As Matt reported earlier, Sen. Manchin has also come out against a tax on billionaires.