On Tuesday morning’s Morning Joe, host Mika Brzezinski welcomed House Freedom Caucus member Raul Labrador (R-ID) to discuss the failure of the Republican health care plan. Labrador opposed Trumpcare for not cutting enough, so Brzezinski opened the interview by asking him why he doesn’t support paid family leave. She was astonished when he didn’t seem to care.
“It should be up to the business,” Labrador explained. “I owned a business for ten years. I paid for my — for the insurance for the people that worked for me. I gave them leave whenever they needed leave and I helped them out. It should be up to the individual business person to decide that.”
When Brzezinski pressed whether the leave was specifically family leave, Labrador tried (but failed) to avoid the question, admitting he offered vacation and sick leave, but not a separate paid family leave. “They have vacation, they had sick days, they had a bunch of things,” he said. “Those things cost me money and I did it willingly. I don’t think the government should be forcing that. I know you want the government to force more spending, but I don’t.”
Brzezinski kept trying to find a way to see if Labrador was at all concerned about families who need that kind of leave, but he simply insisted that it wasn’t what he was there to talk about.
President Trump has actually indicated support for some form of paid family leave, though the details of his plan reveal that it would mostly support the rich while hurting many families. Last month, Rep. Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced a bill that would incentivize — but not require — businesses to offer just two weeks of paid family leave a year.
Congress has never approved a single law requiring businesses to provide paid family leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires unpaid leave (i.e. a worker can’t lose their job for having a child or needing to take care of a sick family member), but no federal law ensures workers can continue to receive a salary for some period of time while tending to such situations.
As ThinkProgress noted in 2014, this puts the U.S. far behind a rather diverse variety of other nations. In terms of both maternity leave and paternity leave, countries around the world protect their workers in ways the U.S. simply does not.