from the Washington Post:
Parental Leave Passes Committee as Foe Foresees Families Stocking Up on Kids
By Joe Davidson
When it comes to paid parental leave for federal employees, everything isn't simple motherhood and apple pie.
To Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, legislation that would allow Frankie and Flo Fed four paid weeks of leave following the birth, adoption or fostering of a child is a dollar sign -- $850 million over five years.
To Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), who has waged a decade-long fight for the bill, it's an investment in the nation's future, an effort that would improve children's health and boost employee productivity.
Maloney's side won the debate yesterday as the committee approved her bill on a voice vote and sent it to the full House.
"No federal employee who's a new parent should be forced to choose between their paycheck and their newborn -- or newly adopted -- child in those vital first few weeks home," Maloney said. "As the nation's largest employer, the federal government can -- and should -- lead the way on this issue."
Currently, federal employees who have been on the job at least a year can take up to 12 weeks of leave, but without pay.
Save for Issa, the Republicans had nothing at all to say about the measure, leaving it to their leader to play the Scrooge who uses money as a hammer against the family value of mothers and fathers staying home with their newborns or newly adopted children.
Issa is concerned that federal employees could adopt children year after year after year, all the while collecting those four weeks of paid annual leave.
Workers "could have one adoption or one foster child per year, resulting in every year you get a new foster child, every year the husband and wife if they are both federal workers would take four weeks off with pay, because they have simply taken in a new foster child," he said before the vote.
Can't you see Frankie and Flo stocking up on kiddies like the old woman who lived in a shoe, who had so many children she didn't know what to do? Frankie and Flo would get that paid month each year for each new one, doing damage to Uncle Sam's wallet in the process.
Issa's vision of federal workers adopting one child after another provided an opening for Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) to plug National Foster Care Month, which is now.
"I happen to represent a district that has the largest number of children in foster care in the United States of America," he said. More than a third of kids in his Chicago don't live with their parents, he added.
"I would be delighted if federal workers or any other workers . . . adopted one of these children every year," Davis continued. "As a matter of fact, I'd give them a Medal of Honor if every year they found that they could adopt another child, because there is a tremendous need for children to be adopted."
With yesterday's vote, the committee moved the United States one step closer to joining the global community of nations, the "163 countries [that] recognize the importance of providing paid leave to families," Maloney said.
"The United States, along with Lesotho, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea, does not."
May 7, 2009