When Family Leave Crosses the Aisle

Feb 19, 2013

By Jodie Levin-Epstein

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post

Two decades ago on February 5, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law and has helped millions of families -- whatever their politics. Under the FMLA some people can keep their jobs when they take up to 12 unpaid weeks to care for their own or a family member's serious illness or when a new child arrives. This bipartisan accomplishment is worth celebrating; it also is a time to help more families in blue and red states alike.

The time is ripe to find common political ground on family issues. The November election revealed a huge gender and Hispanic voter gap between the two parties. As Republicans seek to close the gap, new proposals about short-term job leave that help keep families together ought to prove fertile ground. Bipartisanship is hard work. In the Senate in the 1990s, when Republican Sen. Kit Bond crossed the aisle to join forces with Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd on the FMLA, they had to push past the charges of those in the business community that any leave law would unravel companies. Bond and Dodd found ways to agree.

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