On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, the House of Representatives passed an annual defense authorization bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), that included landmark provision on paid family leave for federal employees.

The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (HR 1534), co-sponsored by Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and the late Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), provisions would give more than 2 million federal workers 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child.

If Congress reaches a landmark deal on paid parental leave for federal employees it would be the first major benefit expansion of family leave since President Bill Clinton signed the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) into law. In 1989, Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) addressed that year’s CWLA National Conference in support of his original Family and Medical Leave Act, legislation CWLA lobbied for and endorsed back then. Chairwoman Maloney said that this is a tremendous victory for families because “parents will no longer need to choose between being home with their new child or their paychecks.”

Although the measure does not expand coverage for other family members such as a spouse or a parent, it is a good first step to paid leave for workers. Chairwoman Maloney acknowledged that gaps in the bill and stated that “… all Americans—whether they work for the federal government or a private company—should have access to comprehensive paid family and medical leave. We will continue fighting for all hardworking Americans in the years to come to make this a reality.”

A part of the agreement with the President is the creation of a sixth branch of the military, Space Force, the House passed the measure and the Senate is expected to vote next week. Then it would head to the President to be signed into law.