Pelosi adds four weeks of paid family and medical leave to her social spending bill


Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi adds four weeks of paid family and medical leave to her social spending bill

 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a significant shift, announced Wednesday that four weeks of paid family leave would be added to the social spending bill after Democrats previously removed the provision from the package.

The California Democrat is pressing for a vote on the $1.75 trillion social spending bill and the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Thursday, according to Democrats familiar with the matter. However, such a plan is unlikely due to some members wanting more time to study. Legislation as well as obtaining more information from the Congressional Budget Office. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, signaled in his agenda Thursday that the House could consider the two bills after weeks of negotiations and vote changes on Biden's economic agenda.

Adding a version of the leave policies to the package revives a central and popular building block of President Joe Biden's initial proposal and comes as Democrats try to unify their messages after loss in the Virginia governor's race.

Pelosi's move signals a shift in strategy: adding policies into the bill that could help her in the House — such as vacation pay — only to be stripped from the Senate. So it's likely that accounts will have to ping pong and send them back to the House as soon as the Senate changes them.

Pelosi's latest strategy

For months, including to CNN only this week, Pelosi insisted that she would only move a bill that could pass the Senate. She wanted to spare the moderates a hard vote twice, even though this is no longer the case.

In her dear colleague's letter announcing the decision, Pelosi said paid family and medical leave would be added to the bill again. Still, she also said she was only committed to passing a bill in the House that could also give the Senate.

"[Because] we must have House and Senate approved legislation in the final version of the Rebuilding Better Act that we are going to send to the office of the president, we must find common ground in the legislation," Pelosi wrote. "As we review priorities and research several community members, I have asked the Ways and Means Committee to include its legislation on family leave and paid medical leave at this morning's hearing."

Pelosi also said a Rules Committee hearing later Wednesday on the social spending bill, known as the Building Back Better Act.

Where Paid Leave Stands

Democrats had previously rescinded the family leave clause after failing to reach a compromise with moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who had several objections to the measure -- a position he reiterated Wednesday.

Last week, Manchin made clear he wouldn't budge on his position on the ruling, telling reporters, "I can't do that."

Pelosi said that Democrats "should seek to find common ground in the legislation."

In light of Manchin's previously stated position, Pelosi's decision indicates that she is changing her strategy of having only a bill that can pass both the House and Senate.

Behind closed doors, Pelosi explained to her gathering why she changed her plans, a source in the room told CNN. 

Pelosi argued that Democrats should not rule out popular rulings simply because Manchin is against them. More programs would have to be ruled out if she were to just put a bill on the ground working for the West Virginia Democrat.

Pelosi said she wants the House to vote on the economic agenda bill and a separate bipartisan infrastructure bill, which the Senate has already passed, by the end of this week.

"That's right," Cuellar told CNN when asked if the shift in strategy mattered to him. "Because for months and months in the convention you gave us, we wouldn't move anything unless he had 50 votes. The rationale that was put forward was straightforward - we're at 95%, so why not just move, and if the Senate changes it, we move on. So the question is, is 5% going to be something that a lot of us are going to worry about."

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