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Press Release - Sanders in Iowa Calls for Paid Family and Medical Leave, Presses Clinton to Back Bills in Congress

January 08, 2016

Bernie Sanders at a Press ConferenceCEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday made the case for three months of paid leave for workers who have a child or if they or someone in their family becomes ill.

Sanders said he was disappointed that Hillary Clinton has only "talked in vague and general terms" about family leave but won't support bills in Congress to implement it.

Sanders is one of 20 cosponsors of a bill by Sen. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to provide three months of paid family and medical leave for new parents and people with serious illnesses. Rep. Rosa DeLauro's companion bill in the House has 115 cosponsors. The legislation would be paid for by a small payroll tax of about $1.61 a week for a typical worker. It's the same broad-based tax that funds Social Security and Medicare.

"Apparently Secretary Clinton believes that a $1.61 payroll tax for the average worker is too high a price for three months of paid family and medical leave. I strongly disagree with that," Sanders said.

"It is an insurance program, like Social Security and like Medicare," he added. "If President Franklin Roosevelt had taken the same position that a small payroll tax is unacceptable we would not have Social Security. If President Johnson had taken the same position as Secretary Clinton that a small payroll tax was unacceptable then we would not have Medicare."

Almost one-quarter of employed mothers in the United States return to work within two weeks of giving birth, according to an In These Times analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data. Only 13 percent of U.S. workers have access to any paid leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while 40 percent of U.S. households with children under 18 rely heavily on a mother's income, Pew research data shows.

Sanders said the current law provides only 12 weeks of unpaid leave and only covers employees in companies with more than 50 workers.

The legislation to provide paid leave has strong backing in Congress. "Twenty-one members of the Senate, including virtually every progressive Democrat, and 116 members of the House, including virtually every progressive Democrat, believe this is the approach we should take as we move forward toward paid family and medical leave," Sanders said.

Watch the press conference:

Carly Fiorina, Press Release - Sanders in Iowa Calls for Paid Family and Medical Leave, Presses Clinton to Back Bills in Congress Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/326268

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