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Regardless of party, moms in Congress agree: It’s time for paid family leave


Washington, December 12, 2022 | Aubrey Stuber (202- 744- 4382)

Originally published in The Hill

We’ve all seen anecdotes and reports about businesses struggling to find and keep workers. Stories of workers reducing their hours, forgoing their desired career path, or leaving the workforce entirely due to their caregiving responsibilities. These pervasive problems carry all too real human consequences and perplex economists. They frustrate Americans of all political stripes, including members of Congress like us. Although solutions seem elusive, there’s promising momentum to modernize our workforce.

One area of public policy promises to alleviate the pressures on businesses and working caregivers alike, and that is paid family leave. Today, roughly three out of four workers do not have access to a defined paid family leave benefit. And for many of these workers, the lack of this benefit is a major reason for the above-mentioned career choices, and the economic ripple effects cannot be discounted. When these workers reduce their hours or leave the workforce, they often spend less on essentials like groceries and transportation, and their larger participation in the economy declines.

Numerous surveys have indicated workers would be more likely to stay in their job, work longer hours, or remain in the workforce if they had access to paid leave. One recent Bipartisan Policy Center/Morning Consult survey found a whopping 53 percent of working mothers said access to paid family leave would help them stay in the workforce. Paid family leave, therefore, is an area where smart, bipartisan policy can help meet the real needs of businesses, workers, and families alike.

Not only is this good economic policy, but it delivers on our promise to build stronger communities by never making Americans choose between growing their family or being financially sound. On this, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike can agree—so it’s no surprise our efforts have garnered the support of groups like the Bipartisan Policy Center.

That is why we have recently formed the Bipartisan Paid Family Leave Working Group in the U.S. House of Representatives alongside Reps. Colin Allred (D -Texas), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) and Julia Letlow (R-La.). Comprised of an equal number of Democratic and Republican members, we are dedicated to identifying and exploring paid leave policy solutions that assist businesses and families. In the coming months, we plan to study options for making working and caregiving more compatible. We will also study the effects of paid family leave on maternal health, infant development, and family connectivity. We will learn from state leave programs that have been successful for businesses and for the financial security of working caregivers.

We welcome any and all ideas. To reach its potential, paid family leave policy must be durable, and to be durable it must be bipartisan, which is why our focus on finding consensus will be unwavering. A policy that depends on the party in power is in constant jeopardy, and therefore hardly a policy at all. We can and must do better than that.

As we move toward 2023 and beyond, we are excited about working together to facilitate policy development and grow support for bipartisan solutions that benefit our businesses and families.

Stephanie Bice represents the 5th District of Oklahoma and Chrissy Houlahan represents the 6th District of Pennsylvania.

Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Small Business Committee. She is the recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award which “recognizes members who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward.”