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Harris pitches six months of paid family, medical leave

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a 2020 White House hopeful, on Monday proposed a six months paid family and medical leave plan as part of her “Children’s Agenda.”

Harris’s plan calls for working Americans to receive six months of paid time off for medical leave, to care for children or to care for family members with serious health conditions. 

Americans making less than $75,000 a year would receive full wage replacement during the time away from work. Benefits would phase down for higher-income workers, according to the campaign.

“Guaranteeing six months of paid leave will bring us closer to economic justice for workers and ensures newborn children or children who are sick can get the care they need from a parent without thrusting the family into upheaval,” Harris said. 

“To give all children in America the opportunities they deserve, this comprehensive children’s agenda will protect their rights, ensure they have access to health care and high-quality education, and dramatically reduce child poverty,” she continued. 

Harris is pushing for double the amount of leave the FAMILY Act calls for. The bill, backed by Democrats Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) calls for three months paid leave and has yet to move forward in Congress. 

Harris would create a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave to oversee the program. The office would determine eligibility and authorize benefit payments, according to the campaign. 

The paid leave program will be funded through general revenue and payroll contributions. The federal government’s portion of the plan will be paid for by fines on corporations that fail to close their pay gaps and tax increases on the top 1 percent and big corporations, according to the campaign. 

Harris’s “Children’s Agenda” also pushes for an expansion of early childhood home visiting programs and access to affordable child care.

The plan proposes creating a first-of-its-kind federal Bureau of Children and Family Justice. 

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