Thursday, September 21, 2006

So much for supporting the troops

This Federal Times story speaks for itself.
Parental leave bill killed

Congressional negotiators have killed a Senate-passed proposal granting liberal time off work for people caring for the children of deployed U.S. troops.

A two-part leave plan had passed the Senate earlier this year, amending the federal government's donated leave program and encouraging private-sector businesses to also create flexible leave for people, other than parents, who are carrying for the children of deployed troops.

Sen. Russell D. Feingold, D-Wis., was the chief sponsor of the plan that was attached to the Senate version of the 2007 defense authorization bill. He called it the Military Family Support Act, and said it was aimed at caregivers who were helping single parents or dual-service couples in which both the husband and wife were deployed.

Sen. James M. Jeffords, I-Vermont, was the chief co-sponsor for the proposal for a benefit that would apply to those who are 21 years old or older and are designated as the primary caregiver for the child of a deployed service member.

For federal workers, Feingold's plan would have allowed leave donated by co-workers to be used ahead of regular leave for caregivers who need time off when carrying for children. Current rules allow donated leave to be used only after all regular leave has been exhausted for someone who is not the parent or legal guardian of a child.

For the private sector, Feingold's provision encouraged, but did not require, businesses to create liberal leave programs for caregivers.

The Senate passed the leave plan in June by voice vote, an indication that the Senate did not consider it controversial. It ran into problems, however, when the House and Senate began negotiations to write a compromise version because the provision attached to the defense bill falls under jurisdiction of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The chairman of that committee, Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., announced he opposed the plan because it considered it unnecessary.

That left House negotiators no option but to refuse to accept it, according to congressional aides involved in the negotiations who asked not to be identified because details about the closed-door talks over the defense bill are considered sensitive until work is completed and because they are not authorized to talk with the press.

Rep. George Miller of California, ranking Democrat on McKeon's committee, had urged adoption of the plan but he couldn't persuade McKeon, and because he is a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Congress, his recommendation carried less weight to negotiators than what the Republican chairman wanted.


Post a Comment

<< Home