Senator Joe Manchin is surrounded by reporters outside of the Capitol.

Joe Manchin Is Now the Reason the U.S. Still Doesn’t Have Paid Family Leave

Well, Joe Manchin and 50 Republicans.
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The White House has unveiled its new, severely whittled-down version of Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan after finalizing negotiations with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema—the two Democratic senators holding the entire package hostage with their nonsensical and self-serving demands.

One of the major provisions cut completely from the bill is any sort of guaranteed paid family leave, and that is reportedly due entirely to Manchin.

OK, technically, this is due to Manchin and the 50 Republicans in the Senate, all of whom are opposed to the bill in its entirety. But they’re not in a position to then negotiate the contents of the package, unlike Manchin. (We’d also have to be pretty naive to expect the “pro-life” party to support anything that actually helps parents in this way.)

Originally, Biden wanted 12 weeks of family leave to be included in the bill. Manchin’s staunch opposition meant Biden was forced to reduce that to four weeks. And now we’re back to exactly nothing. As it stands, only about 23% of private industry workers currently have access to any sort of paid family leave at all.

In recent days, a number of Manchin’s colleagues have tried to convince him to recognize the importance of paid family leave for new parents, as well as for those needing to care for sick or injured family members. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told reporters, “I presented my idea, he’s researching what other countries do, he is looking into the details and he said he would remain open-minded.”

The fact that Manchin, who has been in the Senate for a decade and in politics for nearly 40 years, is only now researching “what other countries do” in terms of family leave is absurd.

Spoiler, Joe: Other countries do it better!

Manchin and Sinema have been expressing concern about the cost of Biden’s plan, but every bit cut from the price tag corresponds to very real needs of millions of Americans going unmet. Manchin can say he wants to cut a trillion dollars off of the bill, but that money doesn’t come from nowhere. He’s committed to denying people essential, life-changing services.

(image: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.