On Thursday, March 9, President Biden released a $6.8 trillion budget with a historic provision for paid family and medical leave as well as improved child and health care benefits.
The third budget of Biden’s presidency contains a $325 billion commitment to a comprehensive, permanent paid family and medical leave program that provides up to 12 weeks of leave and covers workers’ own serious health needs, caring for a loved one’s serious health needs, bonding with a new child, addressing the impact of a loved one’s military deployment, or help for those seeking safety in relation to sexual or domestic violence.
“To support working parents, my budget expands access to affordable, high-quality child care for millions of families,” President Biden said in a speech to mark the launch of his budget in Philadelphia. “And it invests in paid family and medical leave, so we will no longer be the only major economy without national paid leave.”
The United States is one of only six countries in the entire world without a national paid leave policy. The absence of one forces one in four women in the US back to work within two weeks of giving birth.
The budget contains $5 trillion in proposed tax increases on some of the highest earners in the country, and for corporations, as well as huge increases in defense spending, a salary increase for federal employees, and support for Ukraine. Unsurprisingly, it faces significant hurdles to pass through the Republican-controlled House.
But this proposed budget will set the battle lines for the coming weeks of negotiations and may also signal the policies that Biden could campaign on in the run up to the 2024 election, if he decides to run again.
As Dawn Huckelbridge, the director at Paid Leave for All, tells Glamour: “Today the President released the strongest budget proposal for a federal paid leave program in history. Budgets are your priorities, and your principles, and this budget shows a commitment to working families and an economy that actually works for them, not to mention the women and caregivers who have carried our country the last few years. The president’s renewed fight will matter to the voters. I believe passing paid leave will not just save jobs and lives but will transform this country, the opportunities, and freedoms we can have.”
Paid leave is one of the most popular policies in the entire country, with 80% of voters in support of it. Glamour has been advocating for the government to recognize this and #passpaidleave. In order to show the catastrophic impact of the lack of paid leave on women and families, we followed eight women with varying access through the first 28 days postpartum. Two of the women whose journeys Glamour documented were forced to go back to work within two weeks of giving birth, with two others forced to eat into their savings or go into credit card debt in order to cover bills.
The release of this budget, with the biggest provision for paid family and medical leave in history, marks the president’s most significant commitment to passing paid leave into law since the failed Build Back Better Bill in 2021. And a commitment from the government to prevent the experiences like those of the mothers Glamour followed postpartum.