Which Politicians Are Advocating For Paid Family Leave? A Majority Are Democrats


Supporters of paid family leave at the federal level saw their dreams somewhat dashed in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, when Hillary Clinton conceded the 2016 presidential election to then-candidate Donald Trump. On the campaign trail, president-elect Trump announced his support for just six weeks of paid leave — for new mothers only — through what he called an expansion of federal unemployment insurance. Clinton's plan called for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave — paid for with tax reforms — "to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member," according to the Hillary for America website. Though the United States is getting closer to finally catching up with the rest of the world, the question remains: Which politicians are advocating for paid family leave, and what do those policies actually entail?

Only nine of the world's countries fail to provide some form of paid leave for new parents, including some nations in the Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea, Surinam, and the United States. Public backing for such federal legislation is widespread and bipartisan — among Americans 40 and older, 72 percent support paid family leave — but just 13 percent of the U.S. workforce has paid family leave through their employers, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families.

A handful of states have adopted their own policies to support working families. For example, New York passed a bill in April mandating 12 weeks of paid time off for all workers who become parents or need to care for sick relatives. According to Forbes, the program will be funded by small employee payroll deductions. Meanwhile, bills calling for paid family leave — such as Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act — are gaining support in both the U.S. House and Senate.

Sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the FAMILY Act would create a national family and medical leave insurance program providing workers with 12 weeks of time off, paid at 66 percent of their monthly wages up to a capped amount. Under the FAMILY Act, employees and employers would contribute a small amount from each paycheck to an insurance fund.

In addition to DeLauro and Gillibrand, elected officials supporting this proposal include:

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - APRIL 14: U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks at a news conference with gun reform advocates outside the U.S. Capitol April 14, 2016 in Washington, DC. Members of Congress joined the activists in calling for the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act arguing that their position would 'advance sensible, popular legislation to curb the epidemic of gun violence that kills 90 Americans every day.' (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

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Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)

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Sen. Ed. Markey (D-Mass.)

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Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 25: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) delivers remarks on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 20: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), (L), is flanked by senate colleagues while speaking at a news conference about lead in the nation's water system, on Capitol Hill, April 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. Democratic senators introduced the TRUE LEADership Act of 2016, a comprehensive plan that's aim is to recommit the federal government to a critical role in water infrastructure investment, lead remediation and the strong drinking water protections provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 22: Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. Jack Reed (R) (D-RI) questions U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter during a committee hearing September 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford Jr. testified on the topic 'U.S. National Security Challenges and Ongoing Military Operations.' Also pictured is committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

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Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 29: Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) listens during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on July 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee is examining the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, focusing on combating campus sexual assault. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)Astrid Riecken/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On the other side of the aisle, the Family Friendly and Workplace Flexibility Act would authorize private-sector employers to voluntarily offer hourly employees the option to put earned overtime toward paid leave rather than extra compensation. Supporters of this bill include:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), walks with President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol for a meeting November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day president-elect Trump met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)

CONCORD, NH - NOVEMBER 9 - GOP New Hampshire Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte greets supporters at her election night party at the Grappone Convention Center on November 9, 2016, in Concord, New Hampshire. Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan ran a hotly contested Senate race that was still undecided in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016. (Photo by Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images)Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 4: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) speaks with members of the media during an election party for Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue at the InterContinental Buckhead November 4, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Perdue is running in a tight race against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn. (Photo by Jason Getz/Getty Images)Jason Getz/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The third major piece of proposed federal legislation concerning paid family leave is known as the Strong Families Act, which would create a tax credit to encourage employers to voluntarily offer paid leave for workers. For each hour of paid leave provided, the employer would receive a 25 percent nonrefundable tax credit. The more paid FMLA time the employer offers (not to exceed 12 weeks), the greater the tax credit. The co-sponsors of this bill are:

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 17: Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) talks to reporters about a sex trafficking bill that has stalled in the Senate following the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol March 17, 2015 in Washington, DC. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he will not move on to a vote to confirm Loretta Lynch, the nominee to replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder, until the Senate votes on the sex trafficking bill. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 9: Sen. Angus King (I-ME) speaks to reporters at a news conference dubbed #WeThePeople outside the Capitol on June 9, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Senate Democrats unveiled a new legislative proposal that will reform campaign finances and ensure fairer elections. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Nearly one in four new mothers surveyed by the Department of Labor in 2012 returned to work within just two weeks of having a baby. Regardless of which proposal, if any, gains traction in a Trump administration, it's clear the United States has a lot of work to do when it comes to enacting federal legislation to support and protect working families.