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Parental Leave Passes Committee as Foe Foresees Families Stocking Up on Kids

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): Workers could have an adoption or foster child a year and get four weeks off each time.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): Workers could have an adoption or foster child a year and get four weeks off each time. (By Charles Dharapa -- Associated Press)

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By Joe Davidson
Thursday, May 7, 2009

When it comes to paid parental leave for federal employees, everything isn't simple motherhood and apple pie.

To Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, legislation that would allow Frankie and Flo Fed four paid weeks of leave following the birth, adoption or fostering of a child is a dollar sign -- $850 million over five years.

To Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), who has waged a decade-long fight for the bill, it's an investment in the nation's future, an effort that would improve children's health and boost employee productivity.

Maloney's side won the debate yesterday as the committee approved her bill on a voice vote and sent it to the full House.

"No federal employee who's a new parent should be forced to choose between their paycheck and their newborn -- or newly adopted -- child in those vital first few weeks home," Maloney said. "As the nation's largest employer, the federal government can -- and should -- lead the way on this issue."

Currently, federal employees who have been on the job at least a year can take up to 12 weeks of leave, but without pay.

With the voice vote, it was hard to determine exactly how individual members voted, but certainly most of the ayes came from the Democratic side of the Rayburn House Office Building committee room, while many Republicans remained silent when the nays were called.

"I had a child when I worked for the state government, and I was terrified I'd be fired," Maloney said before the vote.

Save for Issa, the Republicans had nothing at all to say about the measure, leaving it to their leader to play the Scrooge who uses money as a hammer against the family value of mothers and fathers staying home with their newborns or newly adopted children.

Issa is concerned that federal employees could adopt children year after year after year, all the while collecting those four weeks of paid annual leave.

Workers "could have one adoption or one foster child per year, resulting in every year you get a new foster child, every year the husband and wife if they are both federal workers would take four weeks off with pay, because they have simply taken in a new foster child," he said before the vote.

Can't you see Frankie and Flo stocking up on kiddies like the old woman who lived in a shoe, who had so many children she didn't know what to do? Frankie and Flo would get that paid month each year for each new one, doing damage to Uncle Sam's wallet in the process.


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© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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