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Today, the U.S. House of Representatives got us one step closer to paid family leave for every working family in the country. Thanks to the grassroots efforts of organizations representing women and families everywhere—including MomsRising and the National Partnership for Women & Families —the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill guaranteeing paid parental leave to federal employees. The final vote was 278 to 146 in support of paid parental leave, and we applaud the Members of Congress that stood with our nation’s working families.

The bill, HR 5781, would offer four weeks of paid leave to qualifying federal employees for the birth or adoption of a new child. It would also enable federal workers to use up to eight weeks of paid sick time immediately following the first four weeks of parental leave.

The federal government—the largest employer in the nation with a workforce of more than 1.8 million civilian employees—will soon be paving the way for the rest of the nation’s employers to follow. But we’re not there yet! Already, the Bush Administration has threatened to veto the bill. And, we need to turn our attention to the Senate. Earlier this week, Senators Jim Webb and John Warner of Virginia sponsored a similar, bipartisan bill, which needs our support. Please tell your Senators to support working women and their families by cosponsoring S. 3140.

The federal government should be a trend-setter of workplace policies that truly meet the needs of today’s working families. Passing a paid parental leave bill for federal workers is a critical benchmark for achieving paid family and medical leave for all workers. After all, no worker should have to be forced to choose between their paycheck and their new child, especially in these tough economic times.

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