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Politics Democrats leveraged Trump’s fixation on Space Force to pursue parental-leave victory for federal workers

00:31  09 december  2019
00:31  09 december  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Congress, White House Reach Tentative Deal Over Paid Parental Leave for Federal Workers

  Congress, White House Reach Tentative Deal Over Paid Parental Leave for Federal Workers Congress has struck a tentative bipartisan agreement that would authorize 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all federal workers, in a potentially historic deal negotiated with the White House. Draft language for a must-pass annual defense policy bill includes a provision that would allow 2.1 million civilians who work for the U.S. government across the country to take paid leave to care for a new baby after birth, adoption or the initiation of foster care, according to multiple people familiar with the deal.

Federal workers currently can take unpaid leave. Democratic and GOP aides confirmed the developments. The parental leave provision is a victory for federal workers , who would face The parental leave issue was a priority for Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who

The parental leave provision would be a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Trump ’ s budget submissions. Those proposed cuts have always been ignored by Congress, but pension changes were approved under Republican control of the House. The parental leave issue

When Congress took up a must-pass defense bill earlier this year, President Trump saw it as a rare opportunity to win approval for Space Force — his proposed sixth branch of the military — ahead of the 2020 election.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Trump applauds as the Space Command flag is revealed at the White House in August. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images President Trump applauds as the Space Command flag is revealed at the White House in August.

White House advisers, told by the president to make Space Force the top priority in negotiations, were prepared at times to consider dramatic concessions.

Negotiators discussed major changes to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, or limits on the White House’s use of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force to pursue broad military powers, according to two people familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal talks. 

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  Military Spouses, Gov’t Workers See Wins in $738B Defense Bill Negotiators on the 2020 Defense Authorization bill have agreed to repeal the “widow’s tax,” which had shortchanged military spouses on the amount of survivor benefits they could collect. © Bloomberg U.S. military personnel gather to board the USS Wasp aircraft carrier ahead of the Memorial Day address by U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, on Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Trump said talks with Japan focused on security and a trade deal between the allies are going well ahead of a meeting with U.S.

The parental leave provision is a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Trump ’ s budget submissions. Those cuts have always been ignored by Congress, though pension changes were approved under GOP control of the House. The parental leave issue was a priority for

The parental leave provision is a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Trump ' s budget submissions. Those cuts have always been ignored by Congress, though pension changes were approved under GOP control of the House. The parental leave issue was a priority for

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Ultimately, Democratic lawmakers and the White House ultimately struck a tentative bargain late last week to create Space Force in exchange for new parental-leave benefits for the federal workforce. If approved, it would be the biggest victory for federal employees in nearly 30 years.

The agreement must be ratified by negotiators and then passed through Congress. Importantly, it is unclear whether it will have enough support among Republicans to pass the Senate.

Some Democratic aides think the proposed federal benefits package would cost about $3 billion, though there is disagreement about whether those costs would span five or 10 years. The expansion would give federal employees a rare victory after the Trump administration has sought to cut their benefits for three years. Many of them also endured the longest-ever government shutdown under the current administration roughly one year ago.

Lawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal

  Lawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House and Senate negotiators on Monday released an agreement for the massive annual defense policy bill that would give federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave in exchange for creating President Trump's long-sought Space Force.The $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) covers everything from how many planes and ships the military can buy to reforming privatized military housing.News broke Friday night that this year'sThe $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) covers everything from how many planes and ships the military can buy to reforming privatized military housing.

The parental leave provision is a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Mr. Trump ' s budget submissions. Those cuts have always been ignored by Congress, though pension changes were approved under GOP control of the House. The parental leave issue was a priority for

The parental leave provision would be a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Trump ’ s budget submissions. Numerous details regarding the Space Force idea remain to be worked out and funding would be delivered through separate spending legislation also taking shape

Congressional Republicans were less determined to get Space Force approved than the White House, as it hadn’t been a GOP priority before Trump took office. They were undercut by the Trump administration, as the president had told advisers he wanted to be able to trumpet the creation of Space Force as part of his reelection bid.

It is unclear whether Senate Republicans will try to block the bargain because of the price tag and the opposition of many to expanding benefits for federal workers. White House officials are concerned that some Republicans could blanch at the deal.

The tentative agreement would fall short of what Democrats had hoped for, as they wanted to secure paid leave not only for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child, but also to care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition or when a family member is deployed for military duty.

‘We ate their lunch’: Democrats claim legislative victories with dealmaker Trump

  ‘We ate their lunch’: Democrats claim legislative victories with dealmaker Trump On a trade deal and a parental-leave agreement, Democrats locked in long-sought policy changes as the president seeks reelection winsThe frustrations of Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) about provisions of the new North American trade agreement were part of a contentious exchange that came as U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer briefed key Senate Republicans on details of the deal, according to three officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the private conversation.

The parental leave provision is a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Trump ’ s budget submissions. Those cuts have always been ignored by Congress, though pension changes were approved under GOP control of the House. The parental leave issue was a priority for

The parental leave provision is a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Trump ’ s budget submissions. Those cuts have always been ignored by Congress, though pension changes were approved under GOP control of the House. The parental leave issue was a priority for

Still, congressional aides of both parties said they will be under intense pressure to approve a broader package that is a top priority of the U.S. military, and the White House plans to make a case that enough priorities are in the deal.

Negotiations over the defense authorization bill have been ongoing for several months and policymakers are rushing to try to complete a deal by the end of the year.

“Moving the president’s national security priorities forward in a divided government has made our conversations to strike a deal quite vigorous,” said Eric Ueland, head of legislative affairs at the White House. “We appreciate the input from and conversation with all sides in both chambers [of Congress] over the past few months, and the willingness to partner with us to hammer out a conference report.”

Negotiators gave conflicting accounts of the role of Ivanka Trump, a White House adviser and the president’s daughter. White House officials said she was integral in fighting for the extension of new parental-leave benefits, though Democratic officials minimized her impact in securing something that had long been a party priority.

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The parental leave provision is a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Trump ' s budget submissions. Those cuts have always been ignored by Congress, though pension changes were approved under GOP control of the House. The parental leave issue was a priority for

The parental leave provision is a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Trump ' s budget submissions. Those cuts have always been ignored by Congress, though pension changes were approved under GOP control of the House. The parental leave issue was a priority for

On Thursday, several top White House officials attended a meeting to discuss the matter, including Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser; Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff; and Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary.

“The White House cared most about Space Force,” said a person familiar with the four months of negotiations between the White House and Congress.

Trump began pushing his advisers last year to create Space Force, which would be a branch of the military tasked with protecting U.S. satellites from foreign adversaries, among other things. Trump has described space as a “war-fighting domain,” though he said last year that when he first floated the idea of Space Force “he was not really serious.”

But the idea caught on with supporters and he has continued to push hard for it. His admirers have worn Space Force shirts and hats.

The Pentagon has established a Space Command that will be headed by a four-star general. Space Force would go further, however, and train and equip specialized forces to accelerate the U.S. response to the militarization of space.

Trump has been the idea’s biggest supporter in Washington, a dynamic that created an opening for Democrats during the defense talks to pursue the parental-leave change.

“Trump doesn’t like the so-called ‘deep state’ and I doubt that he’s going to bed at night saying, ‘Look what I did for federal workers,’ said Rep. Don Beyer (D), whose Northern Virginia district includes almost 80,000 federal workers. “But it was a trade-off for him. And it’s good policy.”

House passes defense bill to establish Space Force, paid family leave for federal workers

  House passes defense bill to establish Space Force, paid family leave for federal workers The House on Wednesday easily passed the compromise defense policy bill that would grant federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave and create a new branch of the military dedicated to space.The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in a 377-48 vote, with many "no" votes coming from progressive Democrats upset after several of their priorities were removed from the legislation. In all, 41 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted "no."The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in a 377-48 vote, with many "no" votes coming from progressive Democrats upset after several of their priorities were removed from the legislation. In all, 41 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted "no.

The future of Donald Trump ’ s proposed Space Force remains uncertain, as fierce bicameral The Space Force could become the sixth branch of the US military and be established under the The proposed parental leave amendment has been advocated for by many Democrats for a long time

The parental leave provision is a victory for federal workers , who would face benefit cuts under Trump ' s budget submissions. Those cuts have always been ignored by Congress, though pension changes were approved under GOP control of the House. The parental leave issue was a priority for

The paid leave would also apply to single, same-sex and transgender parents, since it would be a parental policy, according to Democratic congressional aides said.

At the outset of talks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) encouraged House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Calif.) to trade Space Force for the paid-leave benefit, according to a senior Democratic aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal talks.

The agreement would provide the biggest benefit to federal employees since the Clinton era, when Congress passed legislation in 1993 allowing them to use sick leave to care for family members with medical problems or for bereavement.

Since then, the government has beefed up health benefits for the civilian workforce of 2.1 million with long-term care insurance and dental and vision coverage — but employees must pay the premiums for those policies, albeit at discounted group rates.

It would bring federal workers parity with military families, who were granted up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave under a policy established in 2016 by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

The deal, long a top priority for Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the incoming chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, falls short of a full, paid family-leave policy that Democrats wanted.

It would have paid for 12 weeks of time off that is now available to federal workers without pay under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

But Republicans balked at the cost of a full family-leave benefit, several congressional aides said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal negotiations.

White House to Host Summit on Childcare and Family Leave

  White House to Host Summit on Childcare and Family Leave Officials say the summit could spark a bipartisan effort and help push legislation to improve access to assistance for working parents .© Mark Wilson—Getty Images White House Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump attends a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 19, 2019. White House officials, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said they want the summit — which will feature a presentation by President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump — to spark a bipartisan effort to address childcare.

President Donald Trump looks closer than ever to turning his idea of a Space Force into a reality. Congress and the White House appear to have reached a tentative agreement to authorize 12 weeks of paid parental leave for Democrats have long been proponents of paid leave for federal workers .

Trump has become increasingly fixated on Space Force as his administration faces the House impeachment inquiry, according to one senior administration official. But is has not been clear if House Democrats would approve of his request. "It’ s really down to two issues: Space Force , which the

Senate Republicans earlier this year sunk a plan to give federal employees paid family leave, rejecting by one vote a House-approved measure to make the benefit available. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) argued that the move amounted to “putting Washington insiders and federal employees first.”

Rejecting the pending agreement, however, could be more problematic because it has Trump’s support. Over three months of negotiations, Democrats and Republicans came to agreement on about 1,300 provisions of the defense bill.

Republicans and Democrats went back and forth over a shorter family-leave benefit or a combination of parental and family leave, and settled on parental leave for 12 weeks.

In recent days, Pelosi had made it clear to the White House that she would not bring a defense bill to the House floor that did not include the policy, congressional aides said.

Democrats, in a concession to Republicans, agreed to limit the unpaid family-leave allowance of 12 weeks each calendar year that federal workers currently enjoy.

Employees would have 12 weeks a year to take a mix of paid parental leave and, if they need it, unpaid family leave, congressional aides said. If they took the full 12 weeks of paid parental leave, they would not be eligible to take an additional 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Cost estimates for the deal vary from $3.3 billion over five years to the same amount over 10 years, and Democrats cautioned over the weekend that the Congressional Budget Office has not yet issued a definitive analysis.

Paid parental leave is now offered by one-fourth of private companies, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, which tracks workplace trends, including benefits. At large firms the percentage is 28 percent, with professional-services companies leading the way at 35 percent.

The change could be particularly vital for federal hiring managers, who are facing a retirement wave with a large share of the workforce now eligible to stop working.

“We are one of the only civilized nations in the world that does not provide its workers with paid leave when they have children or care for sick relatives, and I have been working for decades to remedy that,” Maloney, the lead sponsor of the House bill, said in an email. She called the deal an “incomplete solution, but a significant one.”

jeffrey.stein@washpost.com

lisa.rein@washpost.com

joshua.dawsey@washpost.com

Senate sends $738B defense bill to Trump's desk .
The Senate passed a mammoth defense bill on Tuesday.Senators voted 86-8 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation cleared the House last week.

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