Janet's Conner

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Provisions Would Give Military Families More Flexibility at Work

September 12, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C.---Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement today after the 'Army Times' reported that Republican leaders on the committee planned to oppose a provision in a pending defense bill that would require the federal government to give its employees more flexibility to use earned leave time to care for their families while a loved one is called to active duty for the U.S. Armed Forces and would encourage private employers to do the same:

"We have nearly 160,000 troops risking their lives for us in Iraq and Afghanastan. We owe it to them to do everything in our power to ensure that their families are taken care of while they are serving our country. In that spirit, Democrats in the Senate secured a provision in the Senate's 2007 defense bill that would require federal agencies to allow their employees to use their sick and leave time for children or other dependents when a family member in the Armed Forces is deployed. It would encourage, but not require, employers in the private sector to do the same for their employees.

***Now that's supporting our troops!

"This is the least Congress should do. It would cost the federal government very little, but it would make a big difference in the lives of families who are struggling to balance the demands of work and home life while a parent or other loved one is deployed. It would also establish the federal government as a model for all employees when it comes to granting flexibility to military families. In fact, the Senate Democrats had originally proposed to require the Dept of Labor to establish a private sctor leave program, but Senate Republican leaders refused to accept it.

***I thought the Republicans said that they "Support Our Troops?" How is rejecting this Democratic idea, supporting them? It appears that the Republicans would rather do for the corporations that support them than "Support Out Troops."

"Supporting our troops means more than just putting a sticker on your bumper. Republican leaders continue to claim they support the troops while they SLASH FUNDING for veterans' health care, send young men and women into harm's way without adequate armor and equipment, and FAIL to support military families. This LATEST REFUSAL to support military families is totally contemptible. With our military stretched so thin, efforts to support military families like this one shouldn't even be under debate. Republican leaders should DROP THEI OPPOSITION to this provision and do the right thing for military families."

Last week, Miller sent a letter to McKeon urging him to support the Senate provisions. The current Senate provision was secured by Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and James Jeffords (I-VT) and it passed the Senate by voice vote (that is, without opposition). It has the support of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), the National Military Family Association (NMFA), the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and the National Partnership for Women and Families.

***Right now the Senate Republicans will go along with it because it's election season. But since Frist (R-TN) is a lapdog for the White House, let's see what happens when it comes time for the "real" vote!


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