NEW YORK—The Senate’s top Democrat said Sunday that congressional leaders have reached a “real breakthrough” deal to give 12 weeks of paid parental leave to millions of federal workers as part of the annual defense policy bill.

Sen. Charles Schumer said the agreement over the National Defense Authorization Act was reached late Friday night and a vote is expected later this week. The establishment of President Donald Trump’s proposed Space Force is also included in the bill.

Trump administration officials have said Space Force is urgently needed to preserve U.S. dominance in space. A proposal from the Pentagon released earlier this year suggested the service would have about 15,000 personnel and begin in 2020. Space Force would reside within the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps exists within the Navy.

The must-pass bill includes a provision that would allow more than 2 million federal government workers to take paid leave to care for a new baby or for an adopted child. Parental leave was a priority for high-ranking Democrats, including Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The provision is a victory for federal workers, who would face benefit cuts under the Trump administration’s budget submission. Under the current federal law, civilian workers are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

“It’s a real breakthrough for families,” Schumer said, adding that Democrats hope the move will encourage more private employers to offer similar parental leave benefits.

“Not only does it mean that federal employees will get what they’re entitled to, the federal government is a pacesetter,” Schumer added. “If you work for a private company, this means the pressure on your employer will be much greater to give you parental leave as well when the blessed event of a child comes around, or god forbid your child is really sick and needs serious care.”

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, said Friday that such a provision would “mark a HUGE step forward towards making paid leave a reality for all Americans.”

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig