Paid Leave for Military Families, Those with Severe Illnesses Passes House Panel Despite Objection from Republican Lawmakers

Categories: The Insider

AFGE applauds the House Oversight and Reform Committee for passing a pro-family bill that would make it easier to retain and recruit the federal workers who keep our government running -- especially during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

H.R. 564, the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act, July 20 passed the committee on a 24-16 vote along party lines and will now go to the House floor for consideration.  

The pro-family bill would give federal workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for seriously ill family members, deal with their own serious health condition, or address issues related to a family member’s military deployment. 

“The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees unpaid leave for these reasons, but unpaid leave is not a viable option for many federal workers. My bill would finally provide paid leave in these circumstances,” said Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. “This is a policy that is long overdue for the federal workforce and for the nation.” 

But Committee Ranking Member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., was very vocal in his opposition to this pro-family bill. He kept calling federal workers “bureaucrats” and their benefits “perks,” prompting Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., to call him out on his deliberate effort to demonize federal employees.  

“Frankly, over the last decade, my Republican friends, especially when they are in the majority, have never missed an opportunity to demonize the federal workforce,” Connolly said. “They’re not public servants, they’re bureaucrats. They don’t have a benefit package like other employees in America, they have perks. The language is deliberate: to demonize federal employees, to somehow make them fat bureaucrats who don’t really do a job. It’s a disservice to the men and women who serve our constituents, whether it be the VA, Social Security Administration, the IRS or at our national parks.” 

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., reminded her colleagues of the cost of not providing this important paid family leave such as impact on recruitment and productivity. 

AFGE thanks Chair Maloney, Reps. Connolly and Porter, and the others on the committee who stood up to support federal workers and their agency missions. We urge the full House to pass this important bill so these public servants can focus on serving the American people knowing that their employers will have their backs if there’s a personal crisis. 

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