President Donald Trump looks closer than ever to turning his idea of a Space Force into a reality. Congress and the White House appear to have reached a tentative agreement to authorize 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all federal workers in exchange for establishing the Space Force as a separate military service under the Department of the Air Force. News of the deal that was made as part of negotiations for the defense authorization bill was first reported by the Wall Street Journal but later confirmed by others.
Democrats have long been proponents of paid leave for federal workers. But the White House has also been pushing the move with Ivanka Trump making it it one of her priorities. “As the country’s largest employer, the United States Government must lead by example. After 3 years of relentless advocacy, the passage of the NDAA will secure Paid Parental Leave for ALL federal employees,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement. “This will mark a HUGE step forward towards making paid leave a reality for all Americans. This new policy represents another incredible win for millions of hard-working American families courtesy of President Trump!” Under current law, military members get 12 weeks of paid family leave to take care of a new child, while civilians get 12 weeks leave without pay although they can get paid using accumulated annual or sick leave.
The agreement remains preliminary and could still change as lawmakers wait for a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. But proponents of the measure say it would set a new standard for the private sector to match. In order to qualify for the benefit, workers must have been employed by the federal government for at least a year and stay at their jobs for at least 12 weeks after returning from leave, although there could be exceptions.
The bipartisan agreement is also notable in that it comes at a time of increasing acrimony in Congress as a result of the impeachment inquiry. Trump and Republicans have repeatedly attacked Democrats for prioritizing the impeachment inquiry over other legislation that could benefit Americans.