Sanders to discuss family leave policies in Iowa

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U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks addresses Wall Street and financial reform in New York, Jan. 5, 2016. Sanders will lay out his plan for paid family and medical leave Friday in Iowa. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks addresses Wall Street and financial reform in New York, Jan. 5, 2016. Sanders will lay out his plan for paid family and medical leave Friday in Iowa. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to outline steps to provide workers with three months of paid family and medical leave, seeking to draw a contrast with Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton on how it would be paid for.

Sanders was set to have a news conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday to discuss his support for a Senate bill that would offer paid leave for people when they have a child or when their family members become sick.

The Sanders campaign said the bill, proposed by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, would be paid for by raising payroll taxes on a typical worker by $1.61 per week. The senator has tried to use the bill, authored by Clinton’s successor in the Senate, to bolster his standing in Iowa among women and working families.

Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said the senator considered raising the tax “a good investment” and said it was comparable to “the same kind of modest investment” used to pay for Social Security and Medicare.

Clinton has opposed the measure because she has vowed not to raise taxes on families earning $250,000 a year or less. She also supports offering three months of paid leave for workers but has not yet said how she would pay for the plan.

Both Clinton and Sanders have sought to build upon the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, a law signed by President Bill Clinton that required employers to offer workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave.

“Hillary believes we can do this without asking working people to pay for it. Her view is that we can ask the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes and that will cover paid leave,” Ann O’Leary, the Clinton campaign’s senior policy adviser, said in a statement.

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