The Senate on Tuesday passed a package of 12 fiscal 2019 spending bills that, among other items, includes a $1.75 trillion budget for defense and nondefense programs — but could not find the 50 votes needed to pass a package that included a temporary paid family leave program.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., was the only Democrat to oppose the legislation, which Republican Leader Mitch McConnell sought to attach to the defense budget before the previous funding deadline at midnight Monday. McConnell’s motion fell 11 votes short, falling short of the necessary 50.
“I just hope it doesn’t mean that there’s no opportunity in the next two years to get this done because it’s my hope that if the president can’t sell something like that … then we can’t,” McCaskill said.
“It had to pass before the night was over, so we’ll see where we go from here,” said McConnell, R-Ky.
The amendment would have provided two years of paid leave, costing $24 billion. But this amendment failed to garner the 67 votes needed to pass it, effectively ending the debate over paid family leave.
Biden took issue with GOP opposition to the Senate Finance Committee bill.
“We the people are tired of we the politics of the previous administration pushing these sort of winners-take-all statements and cutting social safety nets and other things to give a tax benefit to certain classes of Americans, particularly the wealthiest Americans in the country,” Biden said.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has introduced legislation with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that would provide up to 12 weeks of paid family leave. As Biden pointed out, the House and Senate bills do not provide family leave through the traditional wage insurance model.
“Do I prefer what Kirsten and Portman are doing?” Biden said. “Yes, I do. But I think this is a good compromise between pay-as-you-go and some of the costly provisions in the House bill and, I think, a more balanced approach that will help the middle class.”