POLITICS
01/29/2015 01:39 pm ET Updated Jan 30, 2015

Does Your Member Of Congress Offer Paid Maternity And Paternity Leave?

Win McNamee via Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- Continuing a push that began with the president's State of the Union address, Democratic members of Congress put forth a bill earlier this week that would extend six weeks of paid leave to federal workers after the birth of a child. The legislation would guarantee maternity and paternity leave with pay not just for employees at federal agencies, but also for staffers inside the halls of Congress.

Though it may surprise many Americans, each congressional office currently acts as its own fiefdom when it comes to paid leave for employees. The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees congressional staffers 12 weeks of unpaid leave with a new child, but the members themselves get to decide how much paid time off their staffers receive. The generosity inevitably varies from office to office.

After the State of the Union address, The Huffington Post began asking lawmakers for their offices' policies on maternity and paternity leave. We weren't the only curious ones. Roll Call's Rebecca Gale has been reporting on the discrepancies in policy between congressional offices, and author Jennifer Senior made inquiries to the 100 Senate offices and wrote about the results in The New York Times. Senior heard back from just 26 offices, "virtually all" of whom offered some amount of paid leave.

Our rate of return on the full Congress hasn't been much better. So far, 26 Senate offices and 60 House offices have disclosed their paid leave policies to us. Of those who responded, nearly all of them give their workers at least some paid maternity or paternity leave. That's consistent with the most recent survey on paid leave within the House, which showed that roughly 90 percent of offices provided it as of 2010.

Democrats were more likely to share their policies than Republicans. That should come as no surprise. Democrats, by and large, support expanding paid leave not just to government employees but to Americans in general, while most Republicans do not support expanding paid leave in the workforce through federal law. 

In past sessions, Democrats have introduced a bill that would create a social insurance program for paid leave funded through a payroll tax on workers and employers. On the GOP side, Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) has proposed extending a tax credit to businesses that provide paid maternity and paternity leave to encourage more to participate, but Republicans in general have balked at broadening leave through either taxes or a mandate on employers.

Some Democrats jumped at the opportunity to discuss their policies. The office of Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) sent us a photo of the congressman holding the baby of his chief of staff, Kate Keating. Crowley offers 12 weeks paid maternity and paternity leave. The office of Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) put us in touch with its district director, Christian LoBue, who was hired while six months pregnant. LoBue was offered 12 weeks of paid leave not long after she started. 

Even if many Republicans don't think businesses should be forced to provide paid leave, most of the GOP members who responded to our queries believe their own staffers should receive some. They include Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and David Vitter (La.).

The responses show that members of both parties tend to be more generous with maternity leave than with paternity leave. Though male staffers in most offices are offered at least some paid leave, they often get fewer weeks than women do. And yet there's a growing consensus that paternity leave is as important to women as to men.

A few offices told us their policies aren't the public's business, even though they're funded by taxpayer dollars.

"We don't discuss our office policies with the press," a spokesman for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said.

As Congress itself weighs the costs and benefits of paid leave for all Americans, HuffPost wants to make public the paid leave policies of as many congressional offices as possible. Working alongside Roll Call, we'll be maintaining a continually updated list of the policies.

The list published below shows what members of Congress offer their staffs. (If the paid leave offered is fewer than the 12 unpaid weeks guaranteed by the FMLA, workers are entitled to take the balance in unpaid time.) If you don't see a member's name, that means we haven't figured out that office's policy yet. Help us do that.

Some of our inquiries may not have reached the right people, especially since it's the start of a new session of Congress. We hope more offices will reach out to us to explain their policies. We also invite current or former staffers to provide tips, which we're happy to treat anonymously. Email us here.

Senate

  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.): Twelve weeks paid maternity leave. Paternity leave is case by case.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.): Six weeks paid maternity leave. Four weeks paid paternity leave. Vacation and sick days can also be applied after that.
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.): Eight weeks paid maternity. Four weeks paid paternity, six if there are health complications.
  • Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.): Twelve weeks paid maternity. At least two weeks paid paternity, more on a case by case basis. Vacation and sick days can also be applied.
  • Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.): Twelve weeks paid maternity. Six weeks paid paternity. Sick days can also be applied.
  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.): Eight weeks paid maternity or paternity. Vacation or sick days can also be applied.
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity.
  • Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.): Six weeks paid maternity. Three weeks paid paternity. Vacation or sick days can be applied, and the office will match the number of days used.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity.
  • Sen. Martin Heinrich: (D-N.M.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity.
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.): Unspecified amount of paid leave.
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.): Eight weeks paid maternity. Four weeks paid paternity. Vacation and sick days can also be applied.
  • Sen. Angus King (I-Maine): Twelve weeks of paid leave.
  • Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.): Eight weeks paid maternity. Two weeks paid paternity.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.): Twelve weeks paid maternity leave, and six weeks paid paternity leave, with the option for an additional six weeks unpaid paternity leave.
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.): No leave policy yet.
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.): Ten weeks paid maternity. Four weeks paid maternity. Vacation days can be applied.
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.): Eight weeks paid maternity. Three weeks paid paternity, more if there are complications. Vacation and sick days can be applied.
  • Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.): Ten weeks paid maternity or paternity. An additional four weeks of unpaid can be used (i.e., two beyond FMLA requirements).
  • Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.): Four weeks paid maternity or paternity, more in the case of complications.
  • Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.): The finalized office manual will offer paid leave, though it's not yet specified.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): Twelve weeks paid maternity. Six weeks paid paternity.
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity.
  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity.
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-La.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity.

House

  • Rep. Donald Beyer (D-Va.): Eight weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.): Four weeks paid maternity or paternity leave. Vacation and sick days can be used after that.
  • Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio): Two weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.): Unspecified amount of paid leave.
  • Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity.
  • Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D-Pa.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.): Paid maternity or paternity leave, though the specific amount was not specified.
  • Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.): Ten weeks paid maternity. Eight weeks paid paternity.
  • Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity.
  • Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.): Twelve weeks paid maternity leave. Two weeks paid paternity leave.
  • Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity leave. After the six weeks, an employee may use personal vacation or sick days, including taking them in advance.
  • Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity, with the option to apply another four weeks of paid vacation and personal days.
  • Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.): Twelve weeks paid maternity leave. Eight weeks paid paternity leave, or 12 if the spouse is unable to take leave.
  • Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.): Eight weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): Twelves weeks paid maternity. Six weeks paid paternity.
  • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity. Up to an additional six weeks unpaid leave.
  • Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity.
  • Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity, and eight weeks paid working flextime.
  • Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.): Eight weeks paid maternity or paternity leave. Sick and vacation days can then be applied. The policy is currently under review to possibly add more time.
  • Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.): Ten weeks paid maternity or paternity leave. Vacation and sick days can also be applied.
  • Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.): Twelve weeks paid maternity leave. Six weeks paid paternity leave. Sick days can be added.
  • Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.): Eight weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.): Twelve weeks paid maternity leave. Four weeks paid paternity leave.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.): Four weeks paid maternity or paternity leave. After that, sick and vacation days can be used.
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.): Paid maternity and paternity leave is offered. The number of weeks not specified.
  • Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.): Twelve weeks unpaid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.): Eight weeks paid maternity or paternity leave. Vacation or sick days can then be used.
  • Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ill.): Eight weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.): Four weeks maternity or paternity leave at full pay. A second four weeks at two-thirds pay, and a third four weeks at one-third pay. Employees can also use vacation time.
  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity leave. Vacation time can then be used.
  • Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.): Nine weeks paid maternity or paternity leave. Option to take four additional weeks unpaid.
  • Rep. David Price (D-N.C.): Four weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.): Eight weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.): No set policy, according a spokeswoman, though she says she's “sure that the [congressman] would be more than pleased to provide it.”
  • Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.): Sixteen weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.): Eight weeks paid maternity leave. Three weeks paid paternity leave. Unused sick and vacation leave can then be used.
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio): Eight weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.): Paid maternity and paternity leave, though the number of weeks were not disclosed.
  • Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.): No firm policy. Paid leave evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.): Would only say that the office policies "exceed" FMLA requirements.
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.): Eight weeks paid maternity leave. Six weeks paid paternity leave.
  • Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas): Eight weeks paid maternity leave. Three weeks paid paternity leave.
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.): Twelve weeks paid maternity or paternity leave each year (as opposed to per child).
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.): Six weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.
  • Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.): Ten weeks paid maternity or paternity leave.

This list will be updated as we get responses from members of Congress.

HuffPost

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