Fedweek

Disagreements over using some of the funds in the bill for border wall purposes reportedly are the main holdup.

Among the bills expected to be brought to final voting by Congress before year’s end is the DoD authorization bill, which could change the unpaid parental and family leave currently available for federal employees of up to 12 weeks per 12 months by turning it into paid leave.

Leaders on defense issues have been increasing the pressure to act on that measure (HR-2500 and S-1790), a version of which has been passed annually for decades.

Disagreements over using some of the funds in the bill for border wall purposes reportedly are the main holdup for House and Senate conferees, who have not produced a final bill since convening two months ago.

The House version of the bill would provide paid leave for the same purposes for which unpaid leave is now available to federal employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act —on the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child as well as for certain medical conditions affecting employees and certain family members.

While that law applies to many private sector workers as well, the provision would affect only the federal workforce.

The paid parental leave portion would take effect for births, adoptions and foster placements occurring after September 30 of next year; the portion for other purposes presumably would take effect on the bill’s enactment, although the language does not specify that.

The main proponent of the paid family leave provision, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., is now chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee, following the recent death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

That position gives her a more visible public post to speak on the issue, although she is not one of the conferees. Two other Democratic members of the committee active in federal employee issues are members, however — Reps. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., and Gerald Connolly, D-Va.