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Paid Leave of 4 Weeks in Biden Bill Said to Cost $205.5 Billion

Nov. 18, 2021, 11:03 PM

Democrats’ proposed four-week paid family and medical leave would cost $205.5 billion over 10 years, independent congressional scorekeepers said Thursday.

That accounts for about half of the total $411.5 billion in new spending under the House Ways and Means Committee’s portion of the broad tax and social spending bill (H.R. 5376), according to a score issued by the Congressional Budget Office.

The total package could see a vote as early as Thursday.

Other spending items in the Ways and Means part of the package include money for health workers, elder justice programs, and low-income housing, all parts of President Joe Biden’s social spending agenda.

The paid leave proposal, which would offer four weeks of time off for family or medical reasons, would create a new entitlement program and some moderate Democrats have criticized its cost. An earlier proposal for 12 weeks of paid leave didn’t get an official score, but unofficial estimates hovered around $500 billion over 10 years.

Deliberations over what provisions will be included in the final tax and spending package continue, and whether paid leave will make the cut is to be determined. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) opposes it, and if Democrats want to advance the bill in the evenly split Senate with a simple majority, they will need every vote.

Most U.S. workers would be eligible for the leave in the House version of the bill, including part-time employees and gig workers. Lower-income workers eligible for the leave—those earning up to $15,000 a year—would also see as much as 90% of their wages replaced.

The total Ways and Means section of the tax and spending package also includes several tax provisions, Internal Revenue Service enforcement, and a new drug pricing program, that would offset some the spending provisions by $797.7 billion, CBO said.

With assistance from Chris Marr

To contact the reporter on this story: Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloombergindustry.com; Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com

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