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House Sustains Bush's Veto of Bill on Family Leave

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Washington--The House last week sustained President Bush's veto of a bill that would have required businesses with more than 50 employees to grant workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for newborn or newly adopted children, ill family members, or their own illness.

The 232-to-195 vote failed to capture the two-thirds majority needed to override a Presidential veto, effectively killing the bill.

In vetoing the bill June 29, Presi4dent Bush said time off for a child's birth or adoption or for family illness "is an important benefit for employers to offer," but that it should not be federally mandated.

The "family and medical leave act," at first resisted by some members of the education community, had won at least the tacit support of most education groups after the House Education and Labor Committee added language giving schools more leeway to ensure workers' leave would not disrupt school schedules. (See Education Week, May 30, 1990.)

Following the House vote July 25, the bill's backers criticized the President for giving "lip service" in support of the concept of family leave during his Presidential campaign and vowed to return another bill to his desk next year.

Negotiations on a measure that would help families obtain and pay for child care, meanwhile, have moved slowly this summer.

House and Senate education conferees June 19 tentatively resolved several of their differences over the legislation. But the next day, House members voted 416-to-0 to instruct conferees to repudiate the agreement, signalling their disapproval of a new child-care grant program, proposed in the Senate bill, which the White House also opposes.

Also unresolved is the question of how child-care funds would be divided under the bill, and whether to require states to contract with outside providers for school-age child care.

House and Senate tax conferees, meanwhile, have made little headway in reconciling their differences over portions of the bill that would provide tax credits and earmark Title XX Social Services Block Grant funds for child care.

More definitive action on child care is unlikely until other budget issues are resolved, observers say.

In other child-related legislation, a bill reauthorizing the Head Start program cleared the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee June 27. But a vote by the full Senate is unlikely before the Congress adjourns for summer recess. The House approved a similar measure in May.--dc

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