Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) and Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), David Trone (D-Md.) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in sending a letter to the Chairs of the Armed Services Committees, who are leading the conference committee working to reconcile the House- and Senate-passed versions of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The letter urges the Chairs to maintain the House version’s inclusion of 12 weeks paid family and medical leave benefits for all federal employees.
The House passed its version of the NDAA in July, and the Senate approved its version in June. Now, as conferees led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) continue working to resolve differences, they will have to decide whether to maintain the inclusion of paid family and medical leave benefits for federal employees in the final conference report. Some conferees have suggested extending this benefit only to Department of Defense employees, which would create two classes of federal employees in terms of benefits and would be unacceptable to the letters’ authors.
“We were proud to … work closely with the House Armed Services Committee Members and staff to ensure that it enhanced this year’s NDAA by helping to recruit and retain the best and brightest Americans to work at the Department of Defense and other agencies throughout our government,” the Members wrote. “This would also set a strong example for the private sector, where too many employees still do not have access to paid family and medical leave. We understand that the conferees are considering extending mandatory paid family and medical leave solely to Department of Defense employees. This would be an unacceptable outcome, as it would create two classes of federal employees and deny a benefit to a majority of federal workers for no reason other than the agency at which they work. We urge the conferees to preserve the progress made in the House bill on behalf of all federal employees and their families.”