The following is a statement from A Better Balance Co-Founders and Co-Presidents Sherry Leiwant and Dina Bakst:
“Yesterday’s announcement of a new reconciliation bill includes critical provisions to lower prescription drug costs, address the effects of climate change, and extend health care subsidies for three more years. Yet the reconciliation bill is woefully and starkly lacking in crucial social supports for working families like paid family and medical leave, extension of the childcare tax credit, investments in long term care, and closure of the Medicaid coverage gap. We cannot rebuild our economy and address economic inequality without these vital care policies. Lawmakers’ continued devaluation of care and its critical role in the health and economic security of our nation is unconscionable. As we face a labor shortage, childcare crisis, formula shortage, maternal health crisis, and the fall-out from the overturning of Roe v. Wade, action to support women and families is more important than ever, and this reconciliation package sends the message that they are not a priority.
We are particularly disappointed by the absence of paid family and medical leave in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Last November, the House passed four weeks of paid family and medical leave that would have covered all workers in the country—a hard-fought component of the Build Back Better Act. Our nation needs a national paid family and medical leave program that supports all workers, especially women, who need time to care for a new child, a seriously ill family member, or their own serious illness. Ensuring that workers have that time without needing to sacrifice their economic security should be a priority for this country as it is for almost every other country in the world.
The Senate still has a major opportunity to deliver a win for women and the economy by passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act now. The Pregnant Workers Fairness would put a stop to the longstanding injustice of pregnant and postpartum workers being denied accommodations for their health and forced off the job. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act ensures pregnant and postpartum workers can stay attached to the workforce and earn an income when they need it most. As we continue to fight for the full range of equitable and family-supportive policies we need, we urge Senate leadership to seize this opportunity to protect pregnant workers and new parents and send the message that women and families are valued by bringing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to a vote now.”