February 05, 2021

Duckworth, Durbin Join Gillibrand, DeLauro To Introduce FAMILY Act, Urge Congress To Pass Permanent Paid Leave Solution To Spur Economic Recovery


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — On the 28th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin joined U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to introduce the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act to create a permanent, national paid family and medical leave program.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen the weight of the economic fallout disproportionately fall onto the shoulders of working moms—especially moms of color—who are doing their best to hold it together in their homes and at their jobs without paid leave,” said Duckworth. “No one should have to choose between their health—or the health of their family—and their paycheck. I’m proud to work with my colleagues, Senators Gillibrand and Durbin and Congresswoman DeLauro, to introduce the FAMILY Act to make it clear: paid leave isn’t a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a must-have.”

“Too many Americans have had to choose between receiving an income and their family’s health throughout this deadly pandemic,” Durbin said. “I am proud to support the FAMILY Act to ensure that all workers have access to paid family and medical leave.  No one should be faced with the impossible choice of losing a paycheck if they want to start a family or need to address personal and family health issues.”

The FAMILY Act would ensure that every worker, no matter the size of their employer or if they are self-employed or part-time, has access to paid leave for every serious medical event, every time it’s needed. The emergency paid leave provision that partially expired at the end of last year helped to prevent covered workers from having to choose between their paycheck or their health when they needed to stay home, and helped slow the spread of COVID-19 by roughly 15,000 cases per day. However, not only is this provision too narrow, the need for a national paid leave program extends far beyond the pandemic—it is a critical tool for long term economic recovery. The FAMILY Act is modeled on successful state programs and would create a permanent paid family and medical leave program for all workers that provides up to 66% of wage replacement for 12 weeks, anytime they need it. 

Throughout the pandemic, women have been disproportionately affected by job losses. December job data revealed that the economy suffered a net loss of 140,000 jobs — and each of those jobs lost belonged to a woman. In particular, Black women and Latinas lost their jobs, while White women made significant gains. According to a report from the National Women’s Law Center, more than 2 million women have left the U.S. workforce since the pandemic began, with many forced to leave due to family considerations or because they work in some of the hardest hit sectors of our economy. These women, and particularly women of color, are also more likely to be employed in roles that lack paid sick leave and the ability to work from home. Without a permanent paid leave solution, more women are at risk of losing their livelihoods, more workers are at risk of getting sick when they can’t stay home, and our economic recovery is at risk of being stalled. 

Senator Duckworth has been a strong advocate for women and families during both her service in the House and Senate. Duckworth’s bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act to provide nursing mothers with private, clean and accessible lactation rooms was signed into law after passing both the House and Senate overwhelmingly. In 2018, Duckworth became the first sitting U.S. Senator to give birth, which led to a historic rules change allowing all Senators to bring their infant children onto the Senate floor, if necessary, during votes while their children are under the age of one.

Along with Duckworth, Durbin, Gillibrand and DeLauro, this legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Tina Smith (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

This legislation has been endorsed by 89 national organizations including Paid Leave for All, National Partnership for Women and Families, PL+US, NAACP, Black Woman’s Roundtable, AFL, SEIU, CWU, National Woman’s Law Center, National Hispanic Council, Moms Rising, FAMILY Values @ Work, CLASP, HRC, American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority.