December 13, 2023

Cassidy, Gillibrand, Houlahan, Bice Announce Bicameral Paid Leave Working Group, Request for Input

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06) and Stephanie Bice (R-OK-05) led a bipartisan group of 14 lawmakers to request information from experts, researchers, organizations, and others on a future bipartisan paid leave proposal. The lawmakers sent the letter to request suggestions for expanding access to paid parental, caregiving, and personal medical leave in a bipartisan and fiscally responsible way.

“Americans often face the impossible choice between caring for a newborn child and returning to work to make a living,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We want to hear from parents, experts, and business leaders to help form a solution that works for families without placing a burden on businesses. This request is an important step in that direction.”

“The United States is the only industrialized nation without any form of national paid leave and it hurts our families, our health and our economy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The overwhelming majority of Americans support paid leave and believe it’s good for families as well as for business. I am proud to partner with this strong group of bipartisan lawmakers and I look forward to using input from a wide range of experts to shape our proposal.”

“The lack of paid family leave continues to impact our workforce and economy,” said Representative Stephanie Bice. “Finding solutions that work for both individuals and businesses is critical. Today’s RFI will guarantee that we are considering the vast complexities needed to ensure that any paid leave policy promoted in Washington works as intended. I appreciate the support of my colleagues both in the House and Senate and look forward to continuing to work to find solutions.”

“I was a young Lieutenant in the Air Force when I first became a mom,” said Representative Houlahan. “I didn’t have access to comprehensive paid family leave, and that stress, combined with child care issues on base, is a large part of what led me to separate from active duty. For our service members and all Americans, we must do better. Whether taking care of an elderly parent, or bonding with a newborn, support for paid family leave is at historic levels across the nation and across both chambers of Congress. It is that momentum that helped lead us here today. This bicameral, bipartisan RFI is a first-of-its-kind effort and a great next step as we advocate for and pass enduring policy solutions.”

Cassidy and Gillibrand were joined by U.S. Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Bob Casey (D-PA), Todd Young (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and U.S. Representatives Colin Allred (D-TX-32), Julia Letlow (R-LA-05), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-01), and Haley Stevens (D-MI-11), in addition to Houlahan and Bice.

Read the full letter here or below:

To Whom It May Concern:

As members of the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional working group exploring solutions to expand access to paid leave for all Americans, we write with strong interest in hearing diverse stakeholder input. To inform our efforts, we invite individuals, organizations, researchers, policy experts, and others, to share your suggestions for expanding access to paid parental, caregiving, and personal medical leave in a bipartisan, fiscally responsible and sustainable way. We will closely review submissions to help inform ongoing bipartisan efforts, and individual submissions will be kept confidential. Please note, trustworthy data and research with proper citations will be appreciated.

We invite your response to the following:

  1. What should the federal role be, if any, in providing, promoting, and/or incentivizing paid leave? And how should this interact with the role of state government programs, and/or employer programs?
  2. What types of leave should a potential federal program cover, at what length, and why? How should different types of leave be prioritized? Should different types of leave be treated differently or does doing so create adverse effects?
  3. Please describe your recommended framework/s, focusing on what you believe could be a bipartisan and passable solution/s to expanding paid leave nationally?
  4. Please describe alternative ways any proposed framework can be financed, including possible payfors. What financial mechanisms should be considered to expand paid leave?
  5. How can proposed paid leave frameworks avoid creating unintended distortions, such as marriage penalties, reductions of private sector paid leave coverage, etc.?
  6. Should government support for paid leave  be focused only on the most vulnerable individuals in our society, or on all Americans regardless of means or need?
  7. What supports do small and mid-sized businesses need from the federal government to provide paid leave to workers?
  8. What does research say about the impact of providing paid leave on worker health, job satisfaction, economic mobility, child development, breastfeeding rates and related health outcomes, fertility rate, infant mortality, elderly health, public assistance levels, family income, and recruitment and retention efforts?
  9. What lessons should the federal government learn from successful or failed attempts at expanding paid leave in U.S. states or other countries?
  10. What other information would you like us to consider as we attempt to chart a bipartisan path forward?