Although polls show that paid family leave has strong support among Democrats and Republicans, and many business groups have warmed to the idea, it too has not been able to come down as Democratic leaders have struggled to cut spending on Manchin’s insistence. Another moderate who had to be reassured, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Did not oppose the inclusion of paid leave.
The White House has repeatedly told advocates that paid leave would not have a chance to be included in the Democrats’ reconciliation law if they do not lobby hard enough at Manchin, more than half a dozen sources said.
Over the past year, groups such as paid leave for the U.S., paid leave for all, National Partnership for Women and Families, A Better Balance and their partners have taken this to heart and spent a lot of time and money to influence Manchin in hopes to enforce the law. the policy of the first paid leave in the country.
“We kept hearing,‘ You have a problem with Manchin, ’” said Molly Day, executive director of paid leave for the U.S. “So we continued to dig and engage in all aspects of the debate with Senator Manchin.”
Manchin and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.
Efforts to bring Manchin closer have been multimedia and multimodal.
In January, advocates called for a West Virginia coalition to act on the crowd in the senator’s home country. In June, efforts rose: supporters of paid leave began buying cable and digital ads in the country and arranged for small business leaders to support the benefit of meeting with Manchin’s legislative staff.
In late September, group advisers attended a donation dinner for Manchin and “explicitly, as an individual, engaged him extensively,” Day said.
Day itself chained Manchin on the Amtrak train to New York from Washington, DC last week, when she spotted him and his wife sitting a few rows ahead.
“I went and introduced myself and talked to him personally for a long time over 10 minutes about paid leave,” Day said. “He was very kind.”
Manchinova said she worries about how the paid leave program would affect small businesses, she said, and how “we can’t spend that much money.” Day shared her personal experience as she watched two parents battling cancer without paid leave, which he said “forced” him.
Second, two attorneys said, a board member tackled the matter with Manchin while having dinner at his houseboat, where he lives while in Washington.
The scale of these efforts meant that advocates felt blinded this week when paid leave was excluded from the Democrats ’social spending package due to Manchin’s opposition.
“You could argue how it all kind of led to that,” said Lelaine Bigelow, vice president of social impact and congressional relations at the National Partnership for Women and Families. “But it’s still shocking to me.”
As early as last week, advocates spoke with lawmakers and administration officials about efforts to reduce the package – efforts the White House told them to get involved, the source said, otherwise they risk the provisions being dropped. agreement.
President Joe Biden has advocated providing 12 weeks of paid family and health leave for all workers, gradually over 10 years, for which he proposed to spend $ 225 billion as part of his U.S. family plan. Parliament went even higher and approved $ 494 billion for the plan without phasing in. The Senate wanted a level of spending close to $ 300 billion.
But earlier this month, the White House said it should be reduced to $ 100 billion – enough for just four weeks of paid leave for lower-income workers, and the program expires after three to four years.
“The community of paid leave advocates has been incredibly agile and flexible in my opinion, including not really blinking when they’re from 12 to four weeks,” Day said.
Paid leave had a lot of power behind the hill: House Ways and Means President Richard Neal (D-Mass.) Declared paid leave a top priority and introduced himself to the Senate and White House leadership with the House Speaker. Support Nancy Pelosi – on every opportunity he had, said a source familiar with the talks on Hill.
On Wednesday, when Pelosi called Neal and told him that paid leave was forever absent, the question arose as to whether the White House had invested as much power in benefits as others, such as childcare, sources said.
Proponents are working for the last time to bring Manchin to some sort of paid leave – perhaps based on a four-week proposal released by the White House on Thursday from its framework of reconciliation, or at least some element of it.
“There are signs that the Senate is still fighting for this; to believe that there is a way; and that’s something Manchin didn’t shut down, ”said Dawn Huckelbridge, director of paid leave for all.
Paid vacation for the U.S. runs a $ 25,000 radio spot in West Virginia and even hired a banner to fly over the Greenbrier resort this weekend as Manchin hosts a donor meeting there. Supporters plan to work with supporters in Parliament and the Senate to redouble their efforts in Washington next week.
“We also need our partners here in the White House and in Congress to carry water,” Day said.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Among those leading lawsuits for paid leave in Congress, said they did not give up.
“It’s a shame that America is the only developed country where employees are not guaranteed paid leave if they have a child, become seriously ill or have to care for a loved one – and I think I made it clear I will continue to fight to get paid leave included , ”Murray said.
MEP Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) Said she would continue to work for Parliament – if not for conciliation, then in the next law.
“I see this as a missed opportunity,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s the last chance.”