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House Democrats add paid family leave back to proposed $1.75T social safety net bill

Democrats continue to try to iron out disputes about the bill.
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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that paid family and medical leave is back in the massive social safety net spending package, but its inclusion in the final draft hinges on support from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a key centrist.

“I have asked the Ways and Means Committee for its legislation for Paid Family and Medical Leave to be included in this morning’s hearing,” Pelosi says in a Dear Colleague letter. “Chairman Richie Neal and the Committee staff have worked on this priority for a long time and were ready.”

The proposal will include four weeks of paid leave, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. The sources asked for anonymity to discuss negotiations.

Manchin, in response to the announcement, said he still opposes the paid leave proposal.

"That's a challenge, very much of a challenge. And they know how I feel about that," he told reporters.

Congress is scrambling to try to finish hammering out an agreement on the centerpiece of President Joe Biden's legislative agenda.

The proposal was dropped from the package last week when Manchin raised objections. He indicated to reporters at the time that he didn't think the spending measure, known as the reconciliation bill, should be used to pass a significant policy proposal like paid leave.

He called on the House to vote on the infrastructure bill first, which would allocate $555 billion on projects such as roads and bridges, and to delay voting on the social safety net portion, known as the Build Back Better package, but on Tuesday he recognized that isn't unlikely to happen.

"We’re going to get something done. But I still believe in my heart of hearts, with the unknown that we have right now, that we should have waited," he said. "We’re not going to wait. That ship has sailed. I understand that."