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Report: Paid Leave Axed From Spending Bill

Sources say it was torpedoed by opposition from Manchin
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2021 6:40 PM CDT
Report: Paid Leave Axed From Spending Bill
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema holds the door of an elevator open for Sen. Joe Manchin as they leave a meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – "We are not going to let one man tell millions of women in this country that they can’t have paid leave," Sen. Patty Murray said Wednesday of fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition to family and medical paid leave in the party's hotly debated domestic spending package. Sources tell NBC, however, that paid leave has indeed been dropped from the bill as senators scramble to reach an agreement before President Biden departs for Europe Thursday. Insiders tell the New York Times that program, which had already been cut from 12 weeks to four in an attempt to secure Manchin's vote, was ditched entirely because of the West Virginia lawmaker's opposition.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Manchin remains "open-minded," and she has reached out to him in the hope of reaching a compromise. "Until the bill is printed, I will continue working to include paid leave in the Build Back Better plan," Gillibrand said Wednesday, per the Times. Senate Democrats can't afford to lose a single vote on the package, which has already been cut in half from $3.5 trillion to secure the votes of Manchin and another centrist, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The AP reports that a proposal for a new tax on billionaires, introduced to appease Sinema, may be scrapped due to opposition from Manchin, who argued that it unfairly targeted the wealthy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Democrats are in "pretty good shape" on the plan, though some Democratic senators frustrated with the two holdouts disagree, as does Sen. Bernie Sanders. "The problem is not with the president, the problem is with members here who, although they are very few in number … that think they have a right to determine what the rest of the Congress should be doing," the independent senator from Vermont said Wednesday, per Politico. He said there was "no way" a deal would be reached by Thursday. (Manchin says he's often asked whether he plans to switch parties.)

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