tv Senate Democrats Introduce Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill CSPAN March 15, 2017 7:35pm-8:03pm EDT
stephen breyer 1994, samuel ali alito 2006, and elena kagan in 2010. on capitol hill senate democrats unveiled their new paid family and medical leave legislation. it provides for up to 12 weeks of paid leave for full or part-time workers who need time to care for a newborn, a seriously ill family member, or for their own serious health condition. they announced it at a press conference yesterday. let's watch.
we ready? okay. thank you, everybody, for coming. we're going to start right on time, and i'll be very brief. i'm going to have to go and i'm going to turn it over to kirsten. well, as you know, democrats are working on putting together a bold and sharp edged economic agenda. we've already announced our infrastructure bill. this is our second, and this is a great bill, family leave, and senator gillibrand has had an outstanding piece of legislation which many of us have corespond spo -- cosponsored for a very long time. we're here to challenge president trump and their
administration to sign this bill. with that, i'm going to turn it over to kirsten to run the press conference and thank them. you rang? maynor, he said, you rang? he was what was called a beatnik. i'm proud it's going to be part of our hard edged and bold economic agenda. >> thank you,
senator schumer for your leadership. i'm very grateful. i'm also grateful to my colleagues who have been championing this for several years now on the national stage, which really makes a difference. obviously balancing work and family is never easy, especially when your family is already struggling to make ends meet, but it becomes much harder when a major life event happens that requires a big chunk of your
attention and time, whether it's the birt oh of a new family, whether it's your spouse that gets sick, whether it is an ill child, these are the kind of life events that happen to all workers. no working american should ever have to choose between earning their paycheck and actually providing for that urgent family need, but unfortunately that's a very real choice that parents and family members have to make every single day throughout their careers. imagine a woman who has just given birth, but she doesn't have any vacation days or sick days to be able to use. she has certainly no maternity leave or family leave. she has to make that tough choice. do i stay home with my baby that absolutely needs me and quit my job or do i go to work and bring home the paycheck that i desperately need to feed that child? imagine the story of a young person whose mother is dying. it happened to someone in my office. his mother was dying of cancer. imagine not having the time off
to go be with your mother in those last few weeks. you certainly aren't going to be concentrating on your work. you certainly aren't going to be able to do your job well. but that's an issue and a crisis that too many family members have to take. i've heard stories like this all across the country. an ill child who is in a wheelchair who needs 24/7 care, and that family having to make the tough decisions between having to pay bills and being beside someone who desperately needs your care. we're the only industrialized country in the entire world that doesn't have paid leave, and it's a huge problem because it's an actual artificial drag on our economy. the fact that we don't have paid leave results in about $21 billion a year, a hit, on our economy. so we do have to fix this. the good news is that people around this country are truly standing up for what they believe in. they are demanding a national paid leave plan. they're demanding that congress works for them and help them
provide for their families and also bring home the earnings they need to provide for them. my own state, we just passed paid leave in new york, which is a strong paid leave plan. california passed it more than a decade ago, and i'm telling you when you talk to businesses that have had paid leave, they say it is an unmitigated success. california businesses have said 90% of paid leave has not had a negative impact on them. so it's very clear to me if we had a national paid leave program for all workers, whether you work part time or full time, big businesses or small businesses, it would make a difference. we have a bill that all of us supports and ma support and many others to guarantee that. up to three months paid up to 66% of their salary with a cap. and it's not a lot of money. because it's a national
insurance plan, it's about $2 a week for any employee to put aside or any employer to put aside. that's the same as the cost of a cup of coffee a week. i can promise you every employer believes their employees are worth at least $108 a year to make sure when they need this type of leave it is there for them. now i would like to introduce senator murray who has been a sta stalwart on this issue from the very beginning. >> thank you so much to all of you being here, and i want to thank senator gillibrand in particular. you know, during the campaign, president trump promised to help workers and put them first. he said he would fight for workers and would make sure they wouldn't get left behind. but unfortunately since day one he has broken that promise time and time again. president trump promised to
quote, drain the swamp. he has filled his cabinet with staunch allies from wall street and billionaires like themselves who look out for the top rather than for workers and their families. he's doing everything he can to take away health care coverage for tens of millions of people and for seniors to pay more for their care. from what we have heard about his budget plan, it appears he's going to be doubling down on cuts to priorities like job training and education. that is why today we are inviting president trump to change his tune and take a step that actually helps working families by supporting the family act. this is a bill that would make all the difference for workers across the country, and it is a bill with broad public support. it would mean new parents wouldn't have to rush back to work before they're ready, that workers are adult parents in need of care could take the time they need, and that when people
get sick or injured losing their paycheck isn't an added burden. these are protections that would not only help workers nationwide but strengthen our economy too. without a paid family leave program that is national in scope, women lose $324,000 in wages and retirement benefits over a lifetime and men lose $284,000. and because so many men and women are forced to quit their jobs to take care of themselves or someone they love, our economy loses almost $21 billion a year. if president trump and his administration are truly serious about helping workers and working families, then they'll take us up on our offer and work with us to pass the family act. it's time to take this step for workers and president trump should join us to get this done right away. now i'm very proud to be joined here by a lot of great women,
and it's -- as my friend always said, if you want to get something done, it takes a lot of women and a few good men. he's right behind me, senator sanders. >> it is an honor to be here today to talk about clearly one of the issues that is on the minds of millions and millions of people. and i want to thank senator gillibrand for offering this extremely important legislation. this is legislation that will change lives all over this country. every american should be asking themselves how does it happen that if a woman today in vermont, washington, d.c., any place gives birth to a beautiful baby today, she may be forced to separate herself from that baby and go back to work in a week or two weeks and the father may not have any opportunity at all to spend days with his offspring.
what kind of society are we when we tell a woman she cannot love and nurse and be with her baby because she has to get back to work immediately in order to earn enough economy to take care of her family? there are situations today. kirsten just mentioned one. where a family member is dying and yet a worker cannot take time off to spend days with a loved one. that is not what this country is supposed to be about. and this country is not supposed to be a nation in which we almost alone among industrialized nations do not have paid family and medical leave. every american has to ask themselves how does it happen in canada, 50 miles from where i live, parents are guaranteed 35 weeks of parental leave at 55% of their salary. in germany, parents are
guaranteed one year paid leave at 76% of their salary. in norway, workers are entitled to 49 weeks of paid leave at 100% of their wages and on and on and on it goes. why are we the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, the only major country on earth and virtually the only country on earth not guaranteeing paid family and medical leave? the time has come to end that international disgrace. the united states should stand with every other major country on earth to say if you have a baby, you have the right to spend time with that baby, you have the right to spend time with somebody who is ill. let's pass this legislation. senator kirsten, thank you very much. >> senator klobuchar. >> thank you so much for your incredible leadership. i don't think it's a surprise that you with young children still have taken the lead on this bill, and we appreciate that and thank you for everyone
up here and your hard work on this. so i come at this first as a mom and based on my own experience, i was a lawyer at a law firm and not involved in politics that much. kind of a mom in tennis shoes. i did that for her. that's our slogan. i was pregnant. we were so excited. we had a whole plan for this group day care. i was going to put our daughter in that day care after about six weeks. my law firm provided for six weeks paid leave, but then you could take another six weeks unpaid. i didn't think i was going to take that other six weeks. i wasn't sure, but i knew i could and that was great. so then when our daughter was born, she was very, very sick. she couldn't swallow. they didn't know if she was going to make it. it was completely out of the blue. we had no inkling this was going to happen. there we were. my husband was at another law firm and we couldn't use this plan that we had. it was completely thrown away. she was fed through a tube in
her nose. she was in and out of the hospital for weeks. they ended up putting a tube in her stomach and she was fed that way for a year and a half. for the first six months, we had to feed her one ounce of milk every hour. my husband ended up changing jobs. he went from his sort of partnership track job at one firm and became a clerk for a magistrate so he could come home every day at a certain time. i ended up taking my six weeks and stretching that into 12 weeks and then working at home halftime for about another month. then our in-laws came and lived at our house. it was only 1500 square feet, so that was really interesting. so that's how we got by, but we got by. many of the members up here have met our daughter, and she's doing incredibly well. i don't think that all could have happened without that kind
of leave, so i truly believe that every mom and dad should be able to have that kind of policy. to paraphrase minnesota's happy warrior, former vice president hebert hump free, the -- we are the only industrialized country that doesn't get one of t-- pai sick leave or paid maternity leave and it's just not right, so let's get this bill passed. thank you. >> senator heitkamp. >> thank you, senator gillibrand. we have to ask ourselves what was the lesson of the last election. why were people so afraid? why were people so concerned? why were people so angry? they're angry because so much of
their life they're challenged. they're challenged in saving for their retirement. they're challenged in their student loans. they're challenged in getting a mortgage. they'red in a globalization and world changing where the workforce is changing. i think one of the main reasons why people feel challenged is because they can't provide for their kids. the insecurity of getting up everyday and knowing i have to go to work and it doesn't matter. if you don't have a parent, if you don't have secondary source if your child is sick, something to fall back on, many piedmont in this country do not, then you have insecurity in your life. you have to make the most desperate choice a human being can make, the choice between putting food on your table or taking care of your kids. that's wrong on so many levels. if we truly believe as i do and
the saturdenators do, we can do better. i liken this to unemployment insurance. no one would say let's get rid of unemployment insurance today. it is that safety net that enables people to put food on the table. this is the insurance you get if you're pregnant and need to stay home with the baby. this is the insurance if you are a mother with children taking care of her elderly parents who are sick. this is the opportunity you have to not have it all but to at least be able to survive during very very challenging times. i know my colleagues share this, i was very excited during the president's speech when he talked about paid family leave and we saw the rise in ovation given that concept across the whole body. what that tells you, there is an opportunity. this is a president, certainly a president's daughter who gets
this as a young mother who understands we're all privileged here. as amy talked about, what if you didn't have that law firm or didn't have a husband who could switch jobs? what if you were just working minimum wage. we're all blessed up here because we do have options. the average person in this country does not. in north dakota, a huge percentage of our population does not have one day of sick leave. you might say, what does this mean for small business? kirsten and i did a small business event. they were thrilled because they can't offer this protection. if we broaden the risk pool and includi include everyone, we can get retraining and saving money for their business and understanding and appreciate what's going on in americans' lives today. the challenge is to reach out to the other side of the aisle.
clap loudly for the concept of helping with daycare and helping with paid family leave, to reach across and say, what should that program look like? we know this works. it's works in many other states as i'm sure kirsten has talked about here. how do i represent the people of my state? how do i do what needs to be done to give the economic security to people in my state, i think this is a keystone provision for young families, young mothers, young dads, and for assisting with aging and elderly parents. it is not just for the good of that family, it is for the good of this country. this is an economic win-win. we have to do this sooner rather than later if we are going to respond the economic security so many in this country live
everyday and certainly feel kind of passionate about. >> our last speaker, senator duckworth. >> thank you. i just want to thank senator gillibrand for the work she's doing on this. i'm joining this because it's deeply personal to me. it's not just about all of the stories here. there's so many stories all across illinois and this country. when i was wounded in iraq, my husband at the time was civilian contractor for the department of defense as an assistant professor of military science. he got 12 weeks of unpaid reed to go to walter reed and be by my hospital bedside. then, when that 12 weeks ended he got the call, sorry, you're out of a job and we don't have to keep you on payroll. this is a man wearing the uniform to go to work every single day to train future
officers for a civilian contractor for the dod. thank god during those 12 weeks when he had to take the unpaid leave i was being paid by the military as wounded warrior. thank god in the hospital i continued to draw my salary, but fra frankly, most americans do not have that luxury. what about the construction worker who builds our roads and buildings and homes and buildings that we work in? what about the nurse who throws out her back lifting patients? what about the person who cooks for us in the restaurants when we go out to eat. most americans do not have that luxury. when i think about the steel workers in southern illinois, they don't have this luxury. most cannot afford to have one person take all their time off and survive on just one salary. they simply can't do it. this affects us at all levels. when i had my daughter, baby
abigail a little over 2 years old now. my husband was on active military. he got 10 days to come home and be with us. she was 4 pounds, 10 ounces when she was born and he had 10 days before reporting back. if this is what we do for our military, imagine not even having 10 days, most fathers don't get that luxury and have that time off from work. it is foolish for us as the greatest nation on the face of the earth to not be making these investments in our people. by keeping our people haerltthy to take care of themselves and loved ones and focus on our family wes have a better more productive workforce. even if you don't look at this from the humanity angle, look at it in dollars and cents. >> i was better off leaving walter reed's inpatients for four months and better off for the taxpayers at outpatient
places and i could only do that with my husband the caretaker during the year i was in the hospital. had he not been there, i would have been in the hospital longer and costing more money and co costing taxpayers more money and taking up space needed. these are decisions families are making every single day, do i raid the 401(k) plan even if i have one to raid, to take the time off to care for my ill child? how do i care for my mom or husband who had a workplace accident. we're better than that as nation. that's why i'm supporting this bill. for each and every one of us and the nation as a people and the strength of this nation. that's why we need to do this now. >> senator hi camp mentioned republican interests and trump's intere
interests. have any of you reached out, any republicans or to the administration to discuss this legislation with them? >> yes. i personally reached out to many republican colleagues and have reached out for paid leave with the administration? >> and? >> no developments yet. i will still continue to try. >> we're interested in the enthusiasm we saw. i was counting heads. >> none told you a flat no? >> no. >> i will continue to work with my republican colleagues and the administration as long as they're willing to work with me. >> you want to go with trump's six weeks? >> trump ran out of paid leave unacce unacceptable, gender neutral. women only for babies.
it's for any emergency, sick child, and it has to be gender neutral. if you continue to say care g e giving is just a woman's job it will continue to hinder our economy and that's a bad solution he offered in the campaign as a non-starter? >> is this structured the same way in the past with 22% dax? >> we will just find money. the find money plan rarely works so i would go with an earned benefit we all buy into as an insurance plan. people understand most states have workman's comp, unemployment insurance. all of us know if we can invest in unemployment insurance, it's affordable, makes sense. part of the american workers ethose. >> i was going to make a point about states like mine.
kirsten's state is big, a lot of employers and rhode island a little bit smaller found a way forward. when we're looking at depressed areas like rural america and a program that will be very difficult for a state like north dakota to do a state-based program because the risk is spread over too few employers and employees. to my point, why not let the states continue to do it because we will leave some states behind and certainly regions of this country behind if we don't have a national based program. >> the brilliance of the national plan is it's affordable. $2 a week. would you pay $2 a week so you could have paid leave when you need it? you would. if you asked businesses, would you pay $2 a week for each employee? they'd say absolutely. i pay more than coffee.
they will do that for their employees and individuals will do it because every life, every worker will have an emergency. there will be a family emergency at some point. that's what happens in life. it makes a big difference. especially for small businesses like heidi said and small states. the googles and facebooks of the world can offer generous plans. but for a small business with just a fi employees, even 50 employees, they can't afford to double pay, pay the leave and replacement worker. if you have a national insurance plan they can bring in the worker a few months and the salary is paid by the fund they invested in, the insurance plan. >> in illinois, 90% of employers are small businesses. over 95% are small businesses. they're the ones needed the most. >> thank you all for coming.
i really appreciate it. coming up on c-span3, a senate hearing on k-1 visa fraud. the british house of commons and after that a look at the medicare independent payment advisory board. and later, legal scholars consider the record of supreme court nominee, judge neil gorsuch. k-1 visas allow a foreigner who is engaged to usa resident to become a u.s. resident and green cardholder. the senate judiciary committee holds a hearing on fraud. this is an hour and 50 minutes.