Coronavirus

Biden Wants to Give Federal Workers 15 Weeks of Paid Leave if Their Kids' Schools Stay Closed

The rest of us are out of luck.

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There's not a lot of bipartisanship these days, and legislative efforts around COVID-19 are no different. One exception: Over the last year, both major political parties have shown a like-minded affinity for sneaking policy prescriptions into pandemic relief packages that have little or nothing to do with the pandemic.

The most glaring example in President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 legislation is arguably the $15 federal minimum wage, which seems to have met its demise at the hands of the Senate parliamentarian. But there's another subtle measure that has flown under the radar.

It shouldn't. The bill gifts federal employees up to 15 weeks of paid leave if their lives have been impacted in various ways by COVID-19. 

Some of the hall passes laid out in the bill are relatively benign: For example, those "experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis" qualify. Yet that list gets longer and more convoluted. Most notably, it includes any federal worker with children in remote learning—even in areas where schools have reopened.

That applies to those "caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, if the school of such son or daughter requires or makes optional a virtual learning instruction model or requires or makes optional a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning instruction models, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions," reads the bill. It also includes government employees who are "experiencing any other substantially similar condition," though the legislation does not describe what exactly that entails.

Based on the data, the carveout would cover quite a few employees, including every federal worker in Washington, D.C., where residents are currently operating under a partial school closure order.

One problem bears addressing first. Millions of parents across the country are struggling with how to financially support their families while also assuming the role of teacher, test proctor, and Zoom technical support. The poor are bearing the brunt of that—those working low-wage jobs who cannot tune in virtually from their dining room tables. In most cases, it is not federal employees, who on average earn about $110,000 a year, in need of such aid.

Then there's that glaring question: Just how relevant is this measure? On its face, it checks off the COVID-19 box. But it also comes with a dose of strategic politicking. Democrats have long fought for a paid sick leave program. As I reported almost exactly a year ago, the House's first coronavirus relief bill included a permanent paid leave package, including for victims of stalking and domestic violence—a well-intentioned goal that was utterly divorced from anything to do with COVID-19. The new provision has been watered down, massaged, and married to the pandemic, but I'd venture to say that's a means to an end, at least to an extent. 

That a 106 percent increase in the federal minimum wage was also marketed as direct COVID-19 relief is instructive. People hurt by the pandemic need higher wages, the thinking goes. That thinking fails to account for the millions of people projected to lose their jobs, should that policy take shape—a policy that would obviously long outlive the pandemic. There's also the $350 billion that Biden wants to give to states hurt by pandemic woes, including those running a budget surplus. (To be clear, Republicans are not immune to this phenomenon, as evidenced by the billions of dollars allotted for new weapons in their summer relief bill. Let's blow up the coronavirus!)

And, perhaps most importantly, there's something distinctly cronyistic about the measure. There's the obvious bit—they're federal government employees receiving an exclusive handout from the federal government. But there's also the notion that it might give Biden himself a handout. That wouldn't come in the form of paid leave. Rather, it would come in time bought on addressing school closures, something he pinpointed as one of his foremost priorities upon taking office. 

"Biden ran on reopening most schools for in-person instruction within a hundred days—a promise his administration has both walked back and then kinda-sorta attempted to un-walk back," writes Reason's Peter Suderman. "But reopening, he has insisted, is conditioned on schools obtaining sufficient funding in a relief package. Accordingly, his plan includes about $128 billion for K-12 schooling 'or preparation for, prevention of, and response to the coronavirus pandemic or for other uses allowed by other federal education programs,' as part of a $170 billion boost in education-related spending."

Even more fraught is that schools already have $100 billion leftover from past COVID-19 aid legislation. They have to spend that money first, meaning that it will be years before they will see the bulk of the additional funding Biden is pushing for. Translation: Schools cannot open in the near future until they receive billions more that won't be used…in the near future. In full-circle fashion, it appears to be another measure potentially meant to outlast the pandemic.

The paid leave program is not one of those policies. Federal employees who meet the eligibility requirements have until September 30, 2021, to take advantage—enough to get them through the end of the school year.

NEXT: Democrats Demand Social Media Users Talking Politics Disclose Certain Foreign Connections

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  1. Must be nice…

    1. Weren’t you bragging about using Covid checks to buy stuff for yourself? Are you dishonest then, or dishonest now?

      1. No. Do you still beat your wife?

        1. Lol. You said you bought a gun with it when you were trying to make friends again. Fucking liar.

          1. Lol, he did do that. It was pathetic. But that’s what you get from a broken drunk.

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    2. Nobody on Capital Hill missed a paycheck…..not a single Federal or State employee, to my knowledge, missed a single payday.

      Someone in Uncle Joe’s administration needs to explain how this addlepated old fool came up with this hot flash that those who’ve lost nothing get more than all of the private sector that has struggled through this government induced stupidity for the past year.

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  3. 15 weeks off for something that last a couple of weeks.
    on the bright side if all federal workers take 15 weeks off nothing will get done

    1. It applies to federal workers whose kids are shut down as well.

      1. whose kids schools are shut down*

        1. Whose kids’ schools are shut down*

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    2. so the news isn’t ALL bad! leave ’em home. fucking halfwits are better there than tormenting the rest of us

    3. No worries. The contractors will do most of the work anyways.

      1. That’s absolutely true. My brother in law is a project manager for a government contractor. His civil service counterpart is a GS13, who absolutely worthless.

  4. Yeah, that ain’t workin’
    That’s the way you do it
    You get your money for nuthin’

  5. Why risk those sweet teacher’s union dollars when you can buy votes from another sector?

  6. Was that picture taken from the press conference that the white house cut because Biden was looking off camera and asking for questions?

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  7. “Biden ran on reopening most schools for in-person instruction within a hundred days—a promise his administration has both walked back and then kinda-sorta attempted to un-walk back,” writes Reason’s Peter Suderman.

    TWO WEEKS TO FLATTEN THE CURVE!

  8. BBBBOOOOOOOOTTHHHH. SSSSIIIIIIIDDEESSS

    This 2 Trillion proggy slush fund is 91% non-COVOD related

    BBBOOOOOOTTTHHHHHH. SSSSSSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDDDEEESSSSSSS

    1. How do you expect to stop Covid if you don’t build a subway (the transit system, not the sandwich shop) for Silicon Valley billionaires?

      1. We need to build a wall to keep the Covid out. But I am afaid the bridge to no where will all it back in.

  9. This is never going to fix itself, unless and until it is so bankrupt and broken that it can no longer continue. And that will truly be a crisis.

  10. Just who could have had the time to read the open plans of the DNC prior to the election. Why are we learning about this now?!?

    1. Just wait until Reason tells you exactly how bad HR 1 is.

      But only after it has passed both houses.

  11. Obviously, it is an idiotic bill and you can thank the geniuses at Reason for politicking for Biden because Orange Man Bad.

    That said, is having all of DC not working for 15 weeks a bug not a feature? We have to pay them either way, I’d just as soon have all persons not involved in permitting permanently on paid leave.

  12. Yes, everyone knows that Biden was elected because writers published at Reason politicked for him. And we also know that there was a presidential candidate who had nothing but good policies for Reason writers, so it was dumb for them to politick for one that had both good and bad policies.

    1. When the full weight of mainstream media is tilted toward the side of the scale that excuses, covers up, and elevates a documented career grifter to the highest office in the land …. yea, it would have been nice for Reason to be the voice of reason, rather than joining the chorus because the Orange Man did bad tweets.

      Actively peddling bullshit is bad. Malum in se, as the saying goes in Latin. That it may not have had an effect on the election is impossible to measure, and also irrelevant.

      1. True, but reason probably reaches less people than russian facebook trolls.

    2. When you go put day after day trashing black people I’m going to assume you’re racist. I won’t stop assuming that when a week later you say hate everyone the same but go back to only trashing blacks. Your actions are blatantly obvious.

    3. And idiots playing with matches and gasoline may not be responsible for any particular building burning to the ground.

      But they are still idiots playing with fire.

      1. Look, they were given two bad options: mean tweets that didn’t condemn white supremacists fast enough nor hard enough or playing with fire, you can’t blame Reason for choosing the worst of two bad options.

        Actually, that’s not entirely fair. They had the choice between mean tweets that weren’t anti-racist enough or playing with fire and they chose to say that voting didn’t matter, but if it did, they’d chose to play with fire. It’s not their fault they got stuck with their second choice, playing with fire.

        JFC, they even managed to fuck up ranked choice *and* protest voting. Given the options of ‘nobody’, ‘NOTA’, ‘anyone but the two choices’, ‘Rand Paul’, ‘Thomas Massie’, ‘Justin Amash’, ‘dozens of better, more viable options than Trump or Biden’, ‘John Doe’, ‘Biden/Trump Last’ they chose chose ‘nobody(,) but Biden’.

    4. I am not concerned that Reason writers elected Biden as much as their inability to be even remotely Libertarian.
      If Trump was a few steps away from being a Libertarian President, Biden is a few miles.
      HR1, Equality Act, Kids in Cages, the latest Covid bill, education, … You have to be a useful idiot, retard, or be more concerned about your social parties in order to vote for Biden over Trump, yet most of the staff voted for Biden.
      If it weren’t for Manchin we would have a stacked Supreme Court policing woke idiocy, and we would have two new states in order to keep it permanent.

      How f’ing idiotic to people on this site have to be to not realize what a train wreck our current Dementia in Chief is?

  13. Hahahaha!

  14. See how much better life is for those who work for the government. Time to end this evil capitalism nonsense and free jobs for everybody!!

    1. “In most cases, it is not federal employees, who on average earn about $110,000 a year, in need of such aid.”

      Yeah. Welcome to the new world, get used to it. Screw merit or working hard (they’re “racist”); you get ahead only by being politically connected or helping grow an already obscenely in-debt government.

      1. Get ready for the implementation of a social credit system.

        1. Right. We can make the people happily go along with our bullshit by gaming the system.

          All the politicians here who have their heads up China’s ass will soon be pushing it. Someone should be investigating just how much money our “representatives” in Congress have tied up in China.

  15. Seriously? F.U.

  16. If we could extend the leave to all members of congress, and make it permanent, that would be a good thing.

    1. Fire the teachers and let the Federal employees educate their kids from home permanently. Worst case scenario, they fuck up their kids’ education worse than public schools at roughly the same cost.

      Imagine SleepyJoe being unable to pass minimum sentencing laws and impeach Trump because he’s too busy teaching Hunter algebra and making sure he isn’t fucking any piece of trim that isn’t related to him by blood (maybe). Even if he utterly fails at the latter, it would only be Hunter’s life that he would (still) be fucking up.

  17. I’m sure they will be missed.

  18. >>There’s not a lot of bipartisanship these days

    mean. tweets.

  19. Sucks that you promoted Biden over Trump. Too bad.

    1. Sucks for all of us.

  20. It’s just like a budget shutdown, only this one costs money!

    1. Do you not read Reason magazine? Shutting down and restarting an organization like the US government costs more money than keeping it shut down.

  21. That should lead directly to 52 weeks a year without work for a lot of workers. Well they can teach their kids then.

  22. I’m actually OK with this idea, with a bit of adjustment. They can have their time, but at a reduced rate of pay, say 40 or 50%?

    I like they won’t be around making trouble for the rest of us with their regulations and taxations and fees and decisions. Not a half bad idea.

    1. I agree. Fix the pay between the employees and the teachers and let them fight over/come to an agreement about who gets what. No problem with same number of educators at the same price, but what’s proposed is roughly/effectively twice the number of educators at twice the price.

    2. That sounds good, but what if you need a federal agency to render a decision for your work? As it sits now it takes 18 months to get a decision that would happen in 15 minutes with an actual commercial company.

      They could eliminate anything actually being done by simply not effectuating any decisions.

  23. Those Affirmative Action hires at the VA deserve a vacation. It must be exhausting losing all the paperwork and killing veterans with wait times.
    I worked at the government. It reduced my will to live in the US. It also made me never want to pay taxes again. If only you knew.
    “Never before have so many done so little for so long”.

    1. I’d be very happy to pay them to continue doing nothing, and to leave me alone. While the parasitism is unfair and annoying, its effect is quite mild on our lives, in comparison to when they stir up some energy and implement something or other.

  24. I suspect that paying Federal employees to stay home and NOT do their ‘job’ might actually result in a net cost savings.

  25. The day you realize federal Gov-Gods are in complete control of your paycheck/wallet instead your and free-trade.

  26. How National Socialism dictates education.

  27. Remember when government workers used to say that they were willing to take the lower pay in order to do good things for the country? Didn’t believe it then or now. Our local govt workers are well paid and haven’t missed a paycheck but get plenty of time off. “Government servants” is beyond cynical. Yes there plenty of good ones but really our government is fundamentally self-serving. OK, that’s true of most governments probably.

    1. The Gov-Gun Power to Steal.

  28. Its okay if everyone got it…says commies at unreason.

  29. Just bump teachers and others that have to work in germ laden schools their vaccination and put them back to work. They can all go ahead of me, I don’t care. If there are some parents that don’t want their kids to go back to school yet, they can attend over Zoom. Hell, they’ve been doing it for almost a year now, so what difference does it make.
    teachers and students can also socially distance and wear masks at school as well. And don’t nobody give me the line about masks are useless. Since the shutdown last year, I have been wearing a mask and distancing myself from others when I go from job to job. And in that time, I have not only evaded Covid, but also the cold and flu. I’ve even been in a couple rooms with others that had Covid at the time. Of course no one knew they had Covid the days we were together. But they had it. So in my opinion, masks do work.

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  31. A winning platform for a liberty-loving candidate for federal office: until we can muster the votes to close federal bureaucracies entirely, let’s break up the DC real estate monopoly and spread that workforce across the country.

    Cities could compete for them like corporate headquarters relocations, and they could sit in logical places: Interior in Denver, Energy in Houston, Agricultural in Kansas City, Commerce in Chicago, HHS in Minneapolis, Treasury in New York, etc. Defense, State and Justice can stay in DC, the rest have to go.

    Sure, many of these worthless departments should be abolished, but that ain’t going to happen. So let’s destroy the DC tyranny by breaking it up.

    I think a candidate for POTUS with this plan will certainly lose DC, Maryland and Virginia’s electoral votes but would win everywhere else, and the idea makes sense.

    1. Oh, and they can repurpose all that DC real estate for housing the homeless!

  32. It is the typical ploy of buying the alliegiance and future votes of federal workers.

  33. Some animals are more equal than others

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  35. I just want to bitch-slap all the retards who thought Papa Joe was the better choice becuz Trump has such bad manners. They’ll get what they deserve. Unfortunately, so will the rest of us.

  36. A winning platform for a liberty-loving candidate for federal office: until we can muster the votes to close federal bureaucracies entirely, let’s break up the DC real estate monopoly and spread that workforce across the country. pestle analysis chocolate industryA winning platform for a liberty-loving candidate for federal office: until we can muster the votes to close federal bureaucracies entirely, let’s break up the DC real estate monopoly and spread that workforce across the country.

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