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A tall security fence stands in front of the White House on Nov. 4, 2014 in Washington.
A tall security fence stands in front of the White House on Nov. 4, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

White House Will Call on Congress to Pass Paid-Leave Legislation

Jan 15, 2015

Correction appended, Jan. 15

U.S. President Barack Obama will continue rolling out policy recommendations that speak to issues facing the middle class ahead of his upcoming State of the Union address on Tuesday, with a call for Congress to pass legislation addressing paid leave.

Obama will be calling on Congress to pass a bill by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called the Health Families Act, which would allow Americans to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave every year. He’ll also be urging state and local governments to take up the issue, and will propose $2.2 billion worth of funding to support paid family and medical leave programs in states.

The President will also sign a memorandum that will give federal workers access to at least six weeks of paid family and medical leave. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said in a press call Wednesday that demands for state and local action was not an indication that the White House doesn’t want to work with Congress.

“This isn’t an either or, it’s a both and,” Jarrett said. ” “We think we can do both.”

Obama will announce the new initiatives at a roundtable discussion with a group of women on Thursday. No further details about the event were provided. Jarrett said Wednesday that many of businesses have “failed to keep pace” as both the American workforce and families have evolved.

“If we want to be globally competitive and attract the best workers, we need to figure this out,” she said.

Jarrett announced the upcoming announcement in a post on Linkedin Wednesday evening, a social site geared toward businesses and workers. The proposals follow the model of the President’s call for raising the minimum wage, which had much more traction in some states than on Capitol Hill.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated when President Barack Obama is giving his State of the Union address. It is on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

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