AWE Staff | Joelly Lucien

President Biden signed a $1 Trillion infrastructure bill into law.

As reported by CNBC, The package will put $550 billion in new funds into transportation, broadband and utilities to overhaul physical infrastructure, improvements that advocates have said will boost the economy and create jobs. The legislation will put $110 billion into roads, bridges and other major projects. It will invest $66 billion in freight and passenger rail, including potential upgrades to Amtrak. It will direct $39 billion into public transit systems. The plan will put $65 billion into expanding broadband, a priority after the coronavirus pandemic left millions of Americans at home without effective internet access. And, it will also put $55 billion into improving water systems and replacing lead pipes.

This bill is hailed as a bipartisan effort, a rarity in Washington D.C. And while it is quite impressive that a social services package of this magnitude made it through Congress and onto the President’s docket, concessions had to be made in order for the Democrats and Republicans to come to a consensus on the terms of the bill.

After months of negotiations, Biden dropped paid family leave from the proposed budget bill framework.

As reported by Kelly Ann Smith for Forbes, the original plan included 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, replacing at least two-thirds of earnings up to $4,000 per month, with the lowest-paid workers receiving 80% of their income. But after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) raised objections to implement such leave, the period was slashed to four weeks, and then cut entirely from the bill.

Smith goes on to say, “the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the need for paid leave as families were forced to choose between paychecks and caring for sick loved ones or children.”

A lack of paid family leave disproportionally affects women in the workplace. According to research from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies‘ report Life in the Pandemic: Women’s Health, Finances and Retirement Outlook, fewer than 1 in 5 women — 15% — worked for employers that provided emergency paid leave during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The exclusion of paid family leave leaves the U.S. as one of just six countries without any form of national paid leave and one of eight without national maternity leave, according to data from the World Policy Analysis Center at UCLA.