Manchin vs. paid leave

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IMMOVABLE MANCHIN: Democrats are closing in on a deal to lower prescription drug prices that the party could potentially shoehorn into their reconciliation package.

But paid family and medical leave — a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s campaign that was dropped from the spending agreement last week — has had no such luck.

The main reason? Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key Senate holdout who has remained immune to a tidal wave of efforts attempting to sway him on the issue.

Advocates spent their weekend trying to move the needle in any way they could. Dozens gathered in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s New York neighborhood Sunday morning armed with banners, signs and sidewalk chalk. And plans to fly a banner over a donor retreat Manchin was hosting at the Greenbrier resort Sunday were thwarted only when weather prevented the pilot from getting off the ground. A radio spot from Paid Leave for the U.S. started playing in West Virginia this weekend and will run into this week.

It’s the last stretch of an all-hands-on-deck push that has spanned months, your host reports: “In January, advocates stood up a West Virginia coalition to take grassroots action in the senator’s home state. In June, the effort kicked into higher gear: Paid leave supporters launched cable and digital ad buys in the state and made arrangements for small business leaders who support the benefit to meet with Manchin’s legislative staff.”

In late September, consultants to paid leave advocacy groups attended a donor dinner for Manchin and “expressly engaged him, as an individual, at length,” Paid Leave for the U.S.’ Molly Day said. Day herself buttonholed Manchin on the Amtrak train to New York from Washington, D.C., last week, when she spotted him and his wife sitting a couple rows ahead.

Another time, two advocates said, a board member took up the cause with Manchin while dining on his houseboat, where he lives when he’s in Washington.

Supporters of the benefit on the Hill have been just as active. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand “hit the phones Friday and fired off a flurry of texts to her moderate-leaning colleague that continued into the weekend, saying she even would be willing to ‘meet him in D.C. or anywhere in the country,’” she told The Washington Post’s Tony Romm.

Sums it up: “Manchin refused to relent, Gillibrand said, resisting her latest entreaties much as he had the many alternatives that Democrats had presented to him in recent weeks,” Romm writes.

ICYMI: Biden campaigned on providing 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for all workers, phased in over 10 years. He proposed spending $225 billion on the effort as part of his American Families Plan.

The House went even higher, approving $494 billion for the plan with no phase-in. The Senate wanted a spending level closer to $300 billion. But earlier this month, the White House said it needed to come down to $100 billion — enough for just four weeks of paid leave for lower-income workers, with the program expiring after three to four years.

Not over till it’s over: “Different factions of the party are arguing that the outline the president presented this week is not final, hoping to add back in still-disputed provisions on immigration reform, taxes, Medicare expansion, paid leave and prescription drug prices before the social spending package gets a vote,” our Burgess Everett reports. “The House has already released hundreds of pages of legislation to fully articulate Biden’s vision, the bulk of it devoted to climate change action and the social safety net. Yet even after the House passes its version of the bill, which could happen as soon as next week, some Democrats insist that it’s not the final word.”

GOOD MORNING. It’s Monday, Nov. 1 (!) and this is Weekly Shift, your tipsheet on employment and immigration news, where your reward for reading today is Babs dressed up as Toothless from “How to Train Your Dragon.” (Outstanding movie. If you haven’t seen it, get on it.) And yes, she hated every second of it. Send tips, exclusives and suggestions to [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow us on Twitter at @Eleanor_Mueller and @RebeccaARainey.

COULD BIDEN’S VACCINE MANDATE SCARE OFF FEDERAL CONTRACTORS? Some federal contractors are considering ending their work with the government over anticipated costs incurred by the looming vaccine mandate, our Hailey Fuchs and Natasha Korecki report.

“In an interview, the American Trucking Associations’ executive vice president for advocacy Bill Sullivan told POLITICO that some companies may simply decide that the cost of the mandate is not worth the government’s checks. Sullivan said he has raised concerns to the White House, Office of Management and Budget and other executive branch officials. He noted that if companies drop their contracts, it may be harder to get certain foods to troops, transport fuel for military vehicles, or even deploy the National Guard.”

“Sullivan’s remarks are among the sharpest warnings yet from the business community about the residual impacts of the vaccine mandate. In September, Biden signed an executive order requiring all federal employees and federal contractors receive the Covid-19 vaccine, without the ability to opt out by taking weekly Covid tests. In addition, Biden called for vaccine requirements for any private business employing more than 100 workers. Private employees, however, can opt out by submitting to testing.”

Interviews “with more than a dozen industry advocates across the aerospace, distribution, defense and trucking sectors — some of whom have also been in discussions with administration officials — reveal they either have little confidence they will be able to meet the Dec. 8 deadline for their workers to receive their first vaccine shot or expressed concerns about difficulties the mandate would pose on their labor force.”

UNIONS WANT THEIR SAY, TOO: The AFL-CIO and two dozen other unions are lobbying the White House to include specific worker protections in the upcoming rule, CNBC’s Spencer Kimball reports.

“We stressed the importance of mitigation measures,” Rebecca Reindel, who represented the AFL-CIO on an Oct. 18 call with OMB, told CNBC. “We really need to be getting ahead of the transmission piece of the virus. It takes a while to get vaccinated — we need protections in the meantime.”

What they want: “Three of the biggest labor groups, specifically the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, told CNBC they asked the administration to expand employee protections, requiring employers to improve ventilation and enforce mask rules and social distancing,” Kimball writes. “Reindel said companies should also be required to conduct a risk assessment, in consultation with labor, to determine which combination of mitigation measures are needed to best protect their employees in the workplace.”

Did it work? The White House is expected to release the regulation, which OSHA sent to OMB for review, soon.

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EMPLOYERS FACE TROUBLE FOR TAX HAVENS: G-20 leaders are poised to approve an agreement that will force some of the world’s biggest companies to hand over about $150 billion in additional tax revenue each year, our Mark Scott reports.

“The proposals break down into two buckets. The so-called Pillar One allows governments to tax the world’s top 100 companies, above a certain threshold, on their operations within individual countries. To be included, firms must have a profit margin of at least 10 percent and an annual revenue of $20 billion or more. The goal is to redistribute these profits to countries where firms make their money versus the current system, which allows companies to repatriate these funds to their home markets. In…

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