Paid leave expansion for federal employees advances after contentious committee debate

The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Tuesday advanced legislation that would expand family and sick leave for federal employees, allowing them up to 12 weeks of paid time off to recover from a personal medical condition or care for a sick spouse, child or parent.

The committee voted along party lines after a lengthy debate on the bill, known as the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act.

It essentially replaces the 12 weeks of unpaid leave federal employees have now under the Family and Medical Leave Act with paid time off. The legislation also expands the 2019 law that granted paid parental leave to most federal employees to the entire workforce. Postal Service workers were left out of the original law.

CBO, which usually doesn’t conduct a full budgetary analysis of pending legislation until it advances to the House floor, said its initial budget assumptions for the paid leave bill didn’t include the Postal Service.

The bill would “increase off-budget direct spending for the Postal Service by a significant amount over the five-year period,” CBO said, and USPS would have to reduce its expenses to accommodate them.

“We find it hard to believe this CBO score, and we have questions for the Congressional Budget Office,” Comer said. “Due to the fact that it doesn’t include the cost and the effects on the Postal Service… we need to know what not only the cost of that has to the Postal Service, but also what are the effects to the mail?”

Committee members then spent several minutes arguing what parliamentary procedures they could use to adjourn the markup before voting on the paid leave bill. Those attempts failed, and the legislation advanced along party lines.

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The Covid leave should only cover for people that actually have the virus. The EFEL leave is abused for workers trying to gain extra vacation time.