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NDAA with 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees gets Trump’s green light

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

Notably, the AFGE also supports the 12-week benefit, which is the same as what service members already get in a separate benefit.

On December 10, the White House announced its support of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which it characterized as advancing many of President Trump’s priorities, including its provision of up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees. The White House said that it hopes to receive the appropriations bill for signature.

The paid leave provision, authored by Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), would provide two million federal workers with 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child after birth, adoption, or the initiation of foster care.

New benefit lauded. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) had already backed the bipartisan agreement, which it said mirrors the benefit that service members have received since 2016 under a separate military policy. Under the bipartisan compromise, employees will not be able to use the paid leave for other absences covered without pay by the Family Medical Leave Act, such as family medical emergencies or issues related to a family member’s military deployment, the AFGE noted.

“AFGE has been fighting to provide all federal workers with paid family leave for decades, and the provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act is a large step in the right direction for full family leave,” the union’s National Secretary-Treasurer, Everett Kelley, said in a statement. “The hard work by our members is finally beginning to pay off. This new paid benefit will help federal employees better balance their work and home lives, and it will give agencies a needed advantage when recruiting and retaining workers to carry out critical missions on behalf of our country.”

Even the Center for American Progress (CAP), which expressed disappointment with the other provisions of the NDAA as currently drafted, praised the paid leave proposal. Kelly Magsamen, vice president for National Security and International Policy at CAP, attributed the parental leave provision’s inclusion “to the longstanding leadership of progressives in Congress.” She said the bill “brings us closer to achieving a national paid leave policy that covers all family and medical needs and is accessible to all workers.”

Other notable provisions. The White House also pointed out that the NDAA as currently drafted would include a 3.1-percent pay raise for military troops, ensure that survivors of deceased service members receive the benefits they deserve, and establish the United States Space Force, fulfilling President Trump’s promise to maintain America’s leadership in space. The White House also said the bill “supports President Trump’s historic rebuilding of the military while preserving essential statutory tools to secure our border and rejecting progressive attempts to limit the President’s authorities as Commander in Chief.”