DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday pressed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to endorse legislation to provide paid family leave for new parents.
Sanders has called for three months of paid leave if an employee has a child. Clinton says she supports the idea too but her campaign has not detailed a plan or endorsed legislation by leading advocates in Congress.
Sanders is one of 19 Senate cosponsors of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act introduce by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Clinton’s successor in the Senate. In the House, Rep. Rosa DeLauro is the chief sponsor of a companion bill with 112 cosponsors. The measures also would provide paid leave for workers diagnosed with a serious medical condition.
Sanders spoke about the proposal during a town meeting Sunday night in Indianola, Iowa. “It is unconscionable that millions of new parents in this country are forced back to work because they don’t have the income to stay home with their newborn babies.”
The family leave legislation would be paid for by a small payroll tax totaling $1.38 a week for a typical worker, which Sanders at a meeting with family caregivers in Des Moines on Sunday called “a good investment.” The International Labor Organization found in 2014 that out of 170 countries, all but two provide cash benefits to women during maternity leave: the United States and Papua New Guinea.
He pressed Clinton for details on her proposal during an interview with The Des Moines Register. “What is her program? What does she intend to do other than talk about it?” Sanders asked. “If she thinks $1.38 a week is just too much to spend, let her explain that to the people of Iowa.”