Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shakes hands with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) during the opening session of the 116th Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 3, 2019. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

With Many Lawmakers Out of Town, Democratic House Quietly Weakens Paid Leave Provisions in Coronavirus Relief Bill

"This is not getting enough attention."

Jake Johnson

The Democrat-led House of Representatives on Monday quietly weakened paid leave provisions in a coronavirus relief bill that was already facing criticism from progressives for excluding 80 percent of the U.S. private-sector workforce.

The changes to the legislative package—formally known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—passed the House with unanimous consent Monday evening under the guise of "technical corrections." The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where its prospects for passage are unclear.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday morning that "Democratic aides were alarmed by the changes, which were passed with no objections because House lawmakers are away from Washington [on recess]. The changes weren't shown to most lawmakers before the vote."

The new version of the bill, according to the Journal, "would still provide two weeks of sick leave to a wide swath of workers affected by the pandemic, including those who are in quarantine, caring for family members with COVID-19, and those who have children whose schools or day-care centers have closed."

"But for the next 10 weeks," the Journal noted, "paid leave would be limited only to workers caring for a child whose school or day care had been shut. Healthcare providers and emergency responders, as well as workers who had been in quarantine or caring for a family member affected by the virus, wouldn't be eligible for the additional 10 weeks of leave."

The changes were negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The original version that passed the House early Saturday before lawmakers left Washington for recess sparked swift backlash from the business community, which chafed at the paid leave requirements.

Earlier Monday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) delayed passage of the changes but eventually withdrew his objections, concluding that "what are being called technical corrections make the bill better than it was when it got passed in the wee hours Saturday morning."

Progressives, along with a handful of Republican members of Congress, characterized the original legislation as woefully inadequate to provide meaningful relief for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

"Democrats are scaling back the paid sick leave bill that already left out 80% of workers," tweeted Max Berger, co-founder of progressive Jewish advocacy group IfNotNow. "Instead of proposing solutions as big as the crisis, it looks like they're still playing small ball."

Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, tweeted Tuesday that Congress "must go back and pass another bill that covers all workers."

"They cannot leave out millions by exempting some low-wage workers from paid sick leave," Barber said. "These workers will not be exempted from the disease."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo