Conservatives ought to proceed Trump’s plan for paid family depart

Over the past year, I’ve seen how unprepared states and federal governments were to deal with a national pandemic. Many of us have found ourselves in a reactionary environment where aid packages and stimulus checks have been distributed without really understanding the implications. Now companies are struggling to find employees as states and communities reopen. People are reluctant to get back into work without any sort of security and promise that they will be protected if America is hit by the next crisis.

As the former Mayor of Branson, I work with people from all walks of life and political beliefs to get the job done. I think of my friend Mandy, whose husband fell seriously ill with COVID-19 in December and has not been able to work since then. Just a few months of missed work left their bills astronomically high and, being insured, did not qualify for the CARES law to fund their hospital bills. Something as simple as a paid vacation policy would have helped them stay on top of things and focus on getting the care they needed without forcing Mandy into a traumatic, life changing experience.

This is not a new concept. Paid family vacation was part of President Donald Trump’s policy portfolio for American working families, knowing the importance of taking time to care for newborns, sick family members, and your own physical or mental health. If President Trump had passed the plan, we would have found ourselves in a much more stable environment and better equipped to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the current government has proposed a policy on paid medical and family leave that will guarantee all caregivers across the country a minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave. As a business owner and proud Conservative woman, I consider this to be a huge step forward in continuing the work of the Trump administration and addressing the need for paid family vacation and medical leave.

Ten states have paid family and sick leave programs in place, but 80 percent of US workers still do not have access to paid family and sick leave through their employers. This is a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats both understand that no one should decide whether to take care of their sick child or receive a paycheck. In order to make ends meet, we need to put in place a comprehensive and inclusive paid vacation program so that mental and physical health is not compromised. For years we have desperately needed a permanent solution for working people, and the pandemic has only increased that awareness of paid family and sick leave.

At some point in everyone’s life, regardless of which party you support, you either need to give or receive care – whether you are raising your children, looking after older family members, or battling through a chronic illness. It is time for the right and left to band together to make paid family vacations a reality for all American families. As policy makers in the only country in the world with no paid parental leave, Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley should make supporting the federal paid leave proposal a top priority.

Karen Best is the former mayor of Branson.

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