The House passed legislation on Friday that would expand workplace protections for nursing mothers to ensure they have accommodations to pump breast milk while at work.

Lawmakers passed the bill on a bipartisan basis, 276-149, with 59 Republicans joining all Democrats in support.

The measure builds upon a provision in the 2010 health care law that requires employers to allow “reasonable break time” and to provide private space other than a bathroom for nursing employees to pump breast milk.

The 2010 law requiring nursing accommodations does not apply to workers who are exempt from overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. However, some employers have been subject to providing accommodations for such employees if it was required by state laws. 

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyHouse Oversight Democrats ask NFL for information from investigation into Washington Football Team New York City helicopter complaints skyrocket Trump company in late-stage talks to sell DC hotel: report MORE (D-N.Y.), the chief author of the legislation, said it would offer protections for as many as nine million more people who weren’t covered by the 2010 law, including farm workers, transit workers, nurses and teachers.

“When I first came to Congress, working mothers would come to me, often in tears, and advocate for a place to safely pump breast milk. Often they were fired, ridiculed, forbidden or forced to pump milk in bathrooms,” Maloney said.

“Without these protections, nursing mothers face serious health consequences, including the risk of painful illness and the inability to continue to breast-feed,” Maloney continued. “These basic protections would ensure that working moms who want to breast-feed can continue to do so and prevent nursing mothers from being singled out, ridiculed or fired.” 

Under the legislation, employees must first notify an employer they are not in compliance with the accommodation requirements and allow at least 10 days for the workplace to make changes before they can take legal action.

Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxStudents, not teachers unions, should be at the center of education Sixth House GOP lawmaker issued K metal detector fine Republicans unveil bill to ban federal funding of critical race theory MORE (N.C.), the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, argued the accommodations required by the measure would be “overly burdensome” for some businesses.

Foxx gave an example of the airline industry potentially having to redesign planes if they must provide private spaces other than restrooms for nursing mothers to pump breast milk. 

“While I believe empowering women in the workplace is important, we must not saddle businesses with rigid policies that will open them up to legal action. We instead must support flexible policies that allow women to thrive in the workplace,” Foxx said. “During this difficult time, the last thing small businesses need are more sweeping mandates.”

While most Republicans voted against the bill, four of its official cosponsors are Republicans: Reps. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerThe 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Alibaba – Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (Wash.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickThe 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Laws should unite, not divide MORE (Pa.), Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungAlaska tribal groups race to spend COVID-19 relief money WHIP LIST: How House Democrats, Republicans say they’ll vote on infrastructure bill Republicans are the 21st-century Know-Nothing Party MORE (Alaska) and Don Bacon (Neb.).

Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySenate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents Democrats look for plan B on filibuster GOP blocks Senate Democrats’ revised elections bill MORE (D-Ore.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocrats look for plan B on filibuster Senate will vote on John Lewis voting bill as soon as next week Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — FDA moves to sell hearing aids over-the-counter MORE (R-Alaska) have introduced companion legislation across the Capitol, but their version has yet to reach the Senate floor. 

House passage of the bill comes as Democrats are preparing their sweeping legislative package to invest in climate change and child care support programs.

Among those programs under discussion is ensuring workers have access to paid family and medical leave. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world without a national paid parental leave program.

Democrats’ original legislation would have provided workers with 12 weeks of paid leave with their usual wages replaced on a sliding scale. But President BidenJoe BidenBiden: Democrats’ spending plan is ‘a bigger darn deal’ than Obamacare Biden says he’s open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas ‘not appropriate’ MORE confirmed during a CNN town hall on Thursday night that the proposal will likely shrink to four weeks of paid leave as Democrats pare back the size of the overall package to accommodate centrist holdouts.



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