A signature issue for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand over the last decade has been a push for a national paid family leave program.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden's administration took a step in that direction, making the provision a plank in its $1.8 trillion domestic spending plan meant to boost low and middle-income families.
Biden is expected to outline his proposal when he address Congress at 9 p.m.
“Nearly a decade ago, I introduced the FAMILY Act to create America’s first national paid family and medical leave policy and I am proud to see President Biden include national paid leave in his American Families Plan," Gillibrand said. "This universal and comprehensive paid family and medical leave proposal is one of the most significant steps we can take toward ensuring the economic safety and security of American workers and their families."
Gillibrand has called for a bolstering of family and child support services over the years as the U.S. has lagged behind other developed nations in paid family leave measures.
In a statement Wednesday morning, Gillibrand called the inclusion a "significant step" for families.
"Women, particularly women of color, low-income families, and children have been hit hard by the pandemic and faced serious financial hardship when a lack of paid leave meant they had to leave their jobs to care for themselves or their children," she said. "The American Families Plan’s national paid leave program would ensure that life events like bringing home a new child, caring for an injured child or sick spouse, dealing with a medical condition, mourning the death of a parent, or recovering from domestic violence do not leave people unable to afford their rent or feed their family."
The measure if approved is expected to especially benefit families that rely on two incomes to support a household. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a higher proportion of women dropping out of the workforce to care for children.
"This pandemic revealed that care infrastructure is not only real, but sorely lacking in America," she said. "The need for paid leave will not end when the pandemic does. Making this bold, systemic change today will help families, companies, and our economy weather the crises of the future. I will continue to work on passing a paid leave program in the United States Senate and look forward to working with my colleagues and President Biden to make this policy a reality for the millions of American workers who need this help today.”