Pelosi adds 4 weeks of paid family and medical leave back into social spending bill

Nov 3, 2021, 10:10 AM
Pelosi paid family and medical leave...
FILE: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pauses for an interpreter as she hosts a visit with Roberto Fico, president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. After losses on Election Day, Democrats are rushing to overcome party battles and finish a final draft of President Joe Biden's domestic agenda to pave the way for voting as soon as Thursday on the overall package. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Originally Published: 03 NOV 21 11:10 ET
Updated: 03 NOV 21 11:38 ET

    (CNN) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a major shift, announced on Wednesday that four weeks of paid family and medical leave will be added back into the social spending bill, after Democrats had previously scrapped the provision from the package.

Adding a version of the leave policies back into the package brings back to life a central and popular plank of President Joe Biden’s initial proposal, and comes as Democrats try to unify over their messaging after suffering a significant loss in the Virginia governor’s race.

Pelosi’s move suggests a shift in strategy: Adding policies in the bill that can help it in the House — such as paid leave — only to have it stripped in the Senate. So the bills will likely have to ping pong and be sent back to the House once the Senate changes it.

Pelosi had insisted for months, including to CNN just this week, she would only move a bill that can pass the Senate. She wanted to spare her moderates a tough vote twice, though that no longer seems to be the case.

In her Dear Colleague letter announcing the decision, Pelosi said paid family and medical leave are being added back into the bill, but also says she is committed to only passing a bill in the House that can also pass the Senate.

“(Because) we must have legislation agreed to by the House and the Senate in the final version of the Build Back Better Act that we will send to the President’s desk, we must strive to find common ground in the legislation,” Pelosi writes. “As we are reviewing priorities and at the urging of many Members of the Caucus, I have asked the Ways and Means Committee for its legislation for Paid Family and Medical Leave to be included in this morning’s hearing.”

Pelosi also says that there will be a Rules committee hearing later Wednesday on the bill, known as the Build Back Better Act.

Democrats had previously scrapped the family leave provision after failing to reach a compromise with key moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who had several objections to the measure — a position he reiterated Wednesday.

Last week, Manchin made clear he would not budge on his position on the provision, telling reporters, “I just can’t do it.”

Pelosi said in her letter Wednesday that Democrats “must strive to find common ground in the legislation.”

The decision from Pelosi, given Manchin’s previously stated position, suggests she is shifting her strategy of only having a bill that can pass both the House and Senate.

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

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

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Pelosi adds 4 weeks of paid family and medical leave back into social spending bill