Despite polls showing that paid family leave is popular among Republicans and Democrats, and many business groups having supported the idea, it could not make the cut because Democratic leaders tried to reduce the cost of the spending bill at Manchin's insistence. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), was the other moderate they had to appease. She wasn't against paid leave.
Advocates were repeatedly told by the White House that paid leave would not be included in the Democrats reconciliation bill if they did not lobby Manchin enough, according to more than half a dozen sources.
Paid Leave for the U.S. and Paid Leave for All, the National Partnership for Women and Families and A Better Balance were among the many groups that took this to heart over the past year. They spent considerable time and money trying to influence Manchin to pass the nation's first paid leave policy.
We heard Molly Day, the executive director of Paid Leave for America, tell us that we had a Manchin problem. We kept digging in, engaging in every aspect of the Senator Manchin's debate.
Manchin and the White House didn't respond to our requests for comment.
Manchin was brought to life by multimodal and multimedia efforts.
Advocates formed a West Virginia coalition in January to support grassroots action in Senator Manchin's home state. The effort took off in June when paid leave supporters set up digital and cable ad purchases in West Virginia and made arrangements for small-business leaders who support the benefit of meeting with Manchins' legislative staff.
Day stated that consultants from the various groups attended a Manchin donor dinner in September and engaged Manchin as an individual at length.
Day was able to see Manchin and his wife on the Amtrak train from Washington, D.C. to New York last week, as she buttonholed him.
Day told me that I introduced myself and we spoke for over 10 minutes about paid leaves. He was extremely cordial.
Manchin expressed his concern about the impact of a paid leave program on small businesses. She also said that it would be a burden on our budgets. Day shared the personal story of watching her parents deal with cancer, and how he felt "compelled" to do so.
Two advocates stated that another time, a board member sat down with Manchin to discuss the issue while eating on Manchin's houseboat. He lives there when he is in Washington.
Advocates felt overwhelmed by the breadth of their efforts when paid leave was removed from the Democrats' social spending package to face opposition from Manchin.
Lelaine Bigelow (Vice President for Social Impact and Congress Relations at the National Partnership for Women and Families) said that you could argue for the cause of this. It is still shocking to my eyes.
Advocates were meeting with administration and lawmakers to discuss efforts to reduce the efforts of the package. The White House instructed them to do so, according to a source. Otherwise, the provision could be dropped from the deal.
President Joe Biden had campaigned for 12 weeks of paid family leave and medical leave for all workers. This would be phased in over ten years. He proposed spending $225 Billion on this as part of his American Families Plan. The House approved $494 billion to fund the plan without phase-in. The Senate desired a spending level closer than $300 billion.
The White House stated earlier this month that it had to be reduced to $100 billion to provide enough paid leave for four weeks for workers with lower incomes. The program will expire after three to four year.
Day stated that the paid leave community of advocates has been extremely flexible and agile in my opinion. They even didn't blink when they went from 12 weeks to four weeks.
Paid leave was supported by a lot of muscle on the Hill: Richard Neal, House Ways and Means Chair (D-Mass.). Paid leave was his number one priority. According to a source familiar in the discussions on the Hill, the senator had made paid leave his No. 1 priority and was making his case for Senate leadership and the White House with House speaker Nancy Pelosis support whenever he could, according to a source.
On Wednesday, Pelosi called Neal to inform him that paid leave had been terminated for good. Sources said this raised questions about whether the White House was as committed to the benefit as other benefits like child care.
Advocates are trying to get Manchin on some sort of paid leave, possibly based on the four week proposal that the White House dropped from its reconciliation framework on Thursday.
There are indications that the Senate is still fighting for it; they believe there's a way; and Manchin has not closed that path off, stated Dawn Huckelbridge director of Paid Leave for All.
Paid Leave for America is running a radio spot in West Virginia that costs $25,000 and has even hired a banner that will fly over Greenbrier resort when Manchin hosts a retreat there. To redouble their efforts in Washington next Wednesday, supporters plan to collaborate with Senate and House backers.
Day stated that this is why we need to have water from our allies in Congress and the White House.
It is shameful that America is not the only developed country where workers are guaranteed paid leave if they have children, become seriously ill, or care for a loved one. Murray stated, "I think I have made it abundantly clear I will continue fighting for paid leave included."
Rosa DeLauro, a Democratic Representative from Connecticut, stated that she would continue pushing the House side for reconciliation and then in a subsequent bill.
She said, "I see this as a missed chance." "But it doesn't mean it is the last chance.