[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — As Congress looks to finalize the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, and combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on Monday led their colleagues in sending two bipartisan, bicameral letters to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the U.S. House Armed Services Committee (HASC) urging them to support parental leave and military child care provisions in the final version of the NDAA. The request by Speier and Duckworth aligns with bills they introduced earlier this year: the Servicemember Parental Leave Equity Act, which would make sure that all primary and secondary caregivers in the military can access 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and the bipartisan Military Child Care Expansion Act, which would better equip the Pentagon to help fix the 135 Military Child Development Centers (CDCs) operating in “poor” or “failing” condition. Duckworth is the Chair of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) Airland Subcommittee and Speier is the Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee.

In their letter advocating for parental leave, the members wrote: “Family leave is an essential component of compensation that benefits the health of military children and families, encourages retention of military personnel and contributes to the readiness of America’s armed forces.”

The members note that both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA contain provisions that would modernize family leave benefits. They also noted that parental leave for military personnel now lags behind the benefit offered to their federal civilian employee counterparts after the U.S. military once led the U.S. Government in offering these benefits. The full letter can be found here and is attached below.

Along with Speier and Duckworth, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Representatives Stephanie Bice (R-OK-05), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12), Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03), Colin Allred (D-TX-32), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44), Karen Bass, Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), André Carson (D-IN-07), Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), Danny K. Davis (D-IL-07), Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06), Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), Andy Kim (D-NJ-03), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI-14), Andy Levin (D-MI-09), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Doris Matsui (D-CA-06), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Grace Meng (D-NY-06), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08), Deborah K. Ross (D-NC-02), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL-01), David Scott (D-GA-13), Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15), Mike Thompson (D-CA-05), Dina Titus (D-NV-01) and Nikema Williams (D-GA-05).

In their letter urging inclusion of military child care, the members wrote: “We continue to hear from military families that finding adequate, affordable child care is a persistent challenge that adversely impacts their morale and ability to focus on the mission, and can be determinative of their willingness to continue military service.”

Specifically, the members urged SASC and HASC leadership to retain the sections of the House-passed NDAA that mirror Duckworth and Speier’s bipartisan and bicameral Military Child Care Expansion Act of 2021 to help improve access to child care for military families and improve child care facilities in the final FY2022 NDAA. The full letter can be found here and is attached below.

Along with Speier and Duckworth, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Representatives Sarah Jacobs (D-CA-53), Stephanie Bice (R-OK-05), Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), Angie Craig (D-MN-02), Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ-03), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06), KaialiÊ»i Kahele (D-HI-02), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI-14), Andy Levin (D-MI-09), Elaine G. Luria (D-VA-02), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12), Doris Matsui (D-CA-06), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Grace Meng (D-NY-06), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08), Deborah K. Ross (D-NC-02), Dina Titus (D-NV-01), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13) and Nikema Williams (D-GA-05).

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