Biden Blocked Paid Leave He Claimed to Support for Trump Appointees

The Household and Medical Go away Act was a “first step” when it grew to become regulation 30 years in the past and must be expanded, President Joe Biden said earlier this 12 months. However some staff employed by Biden’s predecessor apparently didn’t deserve the profit, The Each day Sign has realized.

Division of Homeland Safety information reveal that Biden’s presidential transition staff in early 2021 denied a request for paid parental go away from two married DHS staff as they tried to take care of the medical wants of a untimely child who spent the primary week of life within the neonatal intensive care unit.

The couple, Cherie Brief and Michael Bars, have been political appointees of the Trump administration, who say they weren’t fascinated with salaries however solely medical health insurance to assist care for his or her toddler. 

The denial of paid parental go away to them by the incoming Biden administration got here after homeland safety officers stated Biden-Harris transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, had reviewed the couple’s request.

One e mail reviewed by The Each day Sign stated a “excessive degree dialog” occurred about whether or not to grant paid go away for Brief and Bars.

Brief, then a DHS worker whose untimely child was born weighing 5 kilos and confined to a neonatal intensive care unit for per week, instructed The Each day Sign that Biden had reached an “all time low” by focusing on working moms and their youngsters. 

“It had all been permitted,” Brief stated of the couple’s request for paid parental go away in late 2020. “It took extra of an effort to disclaim us than to offer it to us.”

The federal authorities’s household go away advantages have been “weaponized politically” by the incoming Biden staff, she added, and the state of affairs represented the “actual struggle on girls, and a struggle on infants.” 

In the identical speech about household go away six months in the past, Biden praised the good thing about “12 weeks’ paid parental go away for federal staff,” a profit signed into regulation in 2019 by his predecessor, President Donald Trump. 

As a presidential candidate after eight years as vice chairman and 36 years as U.S. senator representing Delaware, Biden publicly supported such a coverage, proclaiming in a December 2019 tweet: “It’s about time federal employees receives a commission parental go away.”

And, in June 2022, the Biden White Home launched a “Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis.”

Conflicting Backside Traces

Because it seems, although, Biden’s transition staff was much less dedicated to the precept in early 2021 earlier than his Jan. 20 inauguration as president, in response to paperwork obtained by The Heritage Basis’s Oversight Mission and reviewed by The Each day Sign. (The Each day Sign is Heritage’s multimedia information group.)

In contemplating the couple’s request, the Division of Homeland Safety switched from a December 2020 coverage of what one e mail referred to as “Backside Line–Sure, they’ll use Paid Parental Go away” in reference to employees employed by the Trump administration. 

The paperwork obtained by Heritage’s Oversight Mission present that in January 2021, the Biden administration coverage utilized to Brief and Bars as a substitute grew to become: “Backside line is that they’ll obtain the PPL [paid parental leave] … However, it ends with their termination on [Jan. 20]. It’s not a way or cause to maintain them past the twentieth.”

When requested to remark Aug. 29 on what occurred to the couple, a staffer within the Division of Homeland Safety’s press workplace despatched an e mail to The Each day Sign saying: “We will work on getting you one thing as early as we are able to someday tomorrow!”

After quite a few comply with up e mail requests from The Each day Sign, nevertheless, the DHS media workplace responded Aug. 31 by saying: “We’re unable to touch upon personnel issues particular to former or present DHS staff.” The workplace as a substitute referred a reporter to a 22-page doc of guidelines from the Workplace of Personnel Administration. 

Brief and Bars requested paid parental go away in late 2020, after Biden had defeated Trump within the Nov. 3 election. However the couple had notified DHS officers in September about their plans to make the formal request.

The Each day Sign was capable of attain Brief and Bars after discovering the couple’s names within the DHS paperwork obtained by Heritage’s Oversight Mission by way of the Freedom of Info Act. 

In personnel, the federal authorities makes a distinction between “profession” staff and “political” staff. Profession staff have civil service protections in opposition to being fired abruptly and often work for companies no matter what celebration controls the White Home. Political staff, against this, serve on the pleasure of the president. 

Brief, a deputy assistant DHS secretary of intergovernmental affairs, first inquired in regards to the paid parental go away profit Sept. 4, 2020, as proven in her e mail alternate with John J. Hill, assistant secretary for the workplace of engagement and partnership at DHS. 

In a single e mail, Hill wrote to DHS human assets specialist Andral Butler: “The query I used to be requested by certainly one of our staff: ‘Are political appointees entitled to the identical maternity go away advantages as profession staff?’”

Butler replied to Hill that day in an e mail: “Simply spoke with my supervisor and sure they’re.”

In February 2021, Politico ran an article about a number of Trump appointees denied paid parental go away after Biden’s inauguration. The story referred to an unnamed “pair of married former Trump Homeland Safety officers” who had offered the information outlet with emails displaying “an company official telling them that, as political appointees, their parental go away advantages would be handled the identical as these for profession staff.” 

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been sworn in Jan. 20.

Politico’s story quoted a White Home assertion saying that some Trump administration staff made “final minute” requests, or already had “resigned,” however neither was the case with Bars and Brief. 

Bars instructed The Each day Sign that he and Brief have been “abruptly instructed lower than per week earlier than the inauguration that this similar courtesy wouldn’t be provided.”

“This isn’t about cash, handouts, charity, or so-called extensions, however obligations to authorities staff and their households that ought to apply equally no matter one’s political philosophy or position,” Bars stated. “We weren’t asking to proceed to obtain paychecks, however simply stay insured throughout a time of vital take care of our untimely child and his mom.”

Bars added:

Each Biden and Harris advocated for this in regulation, however they spitefully issued a categorical denial to a number of households serving within the Trump administration. …

In impact, our plans to take care of our little one have been torn up by faceless Biden bureaucrats who dishonestly claimed ‘tardiness,’ however we all know these issues have been made on the prime of the Biden transition staff and later dealt with by the West Wing. 

President Joe Biden and Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas go to the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Administration Company on Sept. 29, 2022. (Picture: Oliver Contreras/AFP/Getty Photographs)

‘Affirmative Act to Deny the Profit’

Previous administrations routinely prolonged advantages to political appointees of the earlier administration from the opposing celebration, stated Michael Rigas, an appearing Workplace of Personnel Administration director underneath the Trump administration. 

The Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations allowed political appointees from the earlier administration to be “holdovers” in circumstances comparable to an worker sustaining insurance coverage for sure medical remedies or when an worker was simply weeks or a couple of months from retirement. 

All of the Biden transition staff needed to do was nothing,” Rigas instructed The Each day Sign. “It took an affirmative act to disclaim the profit already permitted.”

Bars and Brief additionally offered copies of outdated emails to The Each day Sign, which added context to redacted information obtained from the Division of Homeland Safety by way of the Freedom of Info Act request by Heritage’s Oversight Mission.

On Dec. 14, 2020, about 5 weeks after the election, Bars despatched an e mail to 5 DHS officers, copying his spouse.

“My spouse and I are every submitting requests for PPL [paid parental leave]. Our child might be born any day now, and we’re hoping to start processing this paperwork ASAP,” he wrote. “Cherie Brief from IGA [intergovernmental affairs] is my spouse and I’ve cced her on this e-mail.”

That very same day, Brief, the anticipating mom, despatched an e mail to DHS officers in regards to the matter. 

“I used to be knowledgeable in the present day [that] OPM has already had an official ruling/coverage on this for different appointees in the identical state of affairs,” Brief wrote. “Fortunately I used to be instructed in the present day we must be eligible for the total 12 weeks of paid maternity go away. Brenda Roberts, Workplace of Pay and Go away, is your POC [point of contact] for extra questions.”

DHS personnel official Wayne D. Smith replied and despatched a four-page doc on the foundations, which the couple didn’t discover inconsistent with their state of affairs.   

When their child was born Dec. 18, 2020, Bars despatched DHS  officers an up to date model of the shape for paid parental go away. 

Smith once more replied, writing: “Obtained it. Many thanks. All one of the best.” 

A couple of days later, on Dec. 22, an e mail to Hill, the assistant secretary, from another person within the company (the title is redacted) offered an evaluation of personnel coverage with regard to paid go away requests from outgoing political appointees. 

“Backside Line–Sure, they’ll use Paid Parental Go away,” the e-mail to Hill stated. 

A day earlier, Politico’s Playbook newsletter reported that Brief and Bars, who had turn into a senior communications adviser within the Trump White Home, had welcomed their new child son at Virginia Hospital Middle.

Child in ‘Intensive Care Unit on an IV’

By Jan. 5, 2021, although, the Division of Homeland Safety’s human assets workplace stated the couple’s go away profit would finish in 15 days, Jan. 20, when Biden can be sworn in as president. 

The e-mail, from Smith, started courteously with the phrases “Joyful New 12 months and congratulations.

Nonetheless, Smith shifted to blaming adjustments in go away coverage on the Nationwide Protection Authorization Act for fiscal 12 months 2021. He wrote within the e mail obtained by The Each day Sign:

So if you are presently eligible for PPL [paid parental leave], upon your resignation/termination of your employment on or round January 20, 2020 as a result of presidential transition, you’ll not be a lined worker and due to this fact not entitled to FMLA [Family and Medical Leave Act], which in flip means you’re not eligible for PPL. This implies, upon your resignation/termination, you’ll not stay on the Division’s rolls. Your entitlement to FMLA go away now, as a present worker, doesn’t function a foundation to increase your employment into the subsequent administration serving a brand new president and secretary [Alejandro Mayorkas].

The subsequent day, Bars despatched one other e mail to Smith, noting the circumstances confronted by the couple:

Our child was born nearly 4 weeks early, we spent 8 days within the hospital, 5 days of which [were] within the intensive care unit on an IV, and he continues to battle challenges from being very underweight and untimely. Our little one’s present 24-hour care requires each Cherie [Short] and I at dwelling, and Cherie continues recovering from an emergency C-section.

This PPL [paid parental leave] is vital to our household and livelihoods as we work to boost a powerful, wholesome boy underneath distinctive and unexpected issues to our beginning plan. We have now deliberate our funds, future, and little one’s take care of the subsequent a number of months primarily based on the assumption that Cherie and I’d each be entitled to 90 days of PPL.

We have now been knowledgeable by varied individuals at OPM [Office of Personnel Management] and all through the [government] that, throughout presidential transitions, it’s customary for appointees who’re presently on PPL to not submit their resignation letters, and as such the incoming administration would typically honor the PPL entitlements for these presently on go away as a result of beginning of a kid.

Smith replied Jan. 8, 2021, writing: “The ball is in play. I’ll circle again no later than Tuesday of subsequent week with an replace.”

The reference to the Nationwide Protection Authorization Act as the explanation for denying the requested go away by no means got here up once more, Bars instructed The Each day Sign.

“The NDAA didn’t limit the household go away program; if something, it expanded it,” Bars stated. 

‘Mentioned Particularly and in Element With Wilmington’

The paperwork obtained by Heritage’s Oversight Mission present further communications amongst Division of Homeland Safety officers, in addition to between the couple and the Biden-Harris transition staff. 

On Jan. 15, 2021, paperwork present, Bars despatched an e mail to Mark R. Koumans, director of the presidential transition workplace for DHS, to test on the standing of the go away request. 

Within the e mail, Bars famous that “it’s not a standard ‘holdover’ request.”

“I’m very joyful they’ve learn our letter, but when it’s in any respect doable, I’d really feel extra snug realizing that the request has in flip been issued to Wilmington,” Bars wrote to Koumans, referring to the Biden-Harris transition staff’s headquarters in Delaware. 

“Something you are able to do to shake this information unfastened for readability can be immensely appreciated! Have a beautiful weekend!” the brand new father of a untimely child boy wrote.

On the evening of Jan. 18, 2021—two days earlier than Biden’s inauguration ceremony—Koumans wrote again to Bars to convey what the Company Evaluation Group instructed him: “Mark—we’re not conscious of anybody who’s going to be held over.”

Koumans additionally wrote: 

This isn’t what you have been hoping to listen to however I believe you additionally knew this was the probably end result. I’m sorry to be the bearer of this information and I’m sorry I don’t produce other information.

In an e mail to Koumans the subsequent morning, Jan. 19, nevertheless, Bars requested: “Have they been issued and thought of our request particularly?”

That afternoon, Koumans replied: 

Michael and Cherie, I’ve now confirmed that, sure, your case was mentioned particularly and intimately with [Biden transition officials in] Wilmington and with authorities HR specialists who perceive these guidelines much better than I ever will. I’m sorry I don’t have completely different information to share. Finest needs.

Two days later, on Inauguration Day, Bars despatched one other e mail to Koumans saying that Chris Liddell, a deputy Trump White Home chief of employees, “had a high-level dialog with the Biden staff yesterday concerning this matter though no indication was given as to a call.”

“Whereas we await this ultimate willpower, we now have not but submitted our letters of resignation,” Bars wrote, asking Koumans to name him. 

Bars instructed The Each day Sign that he couldn’t recall whether or not the 2 spoke. 

Bars stated that as another determined try and hold medical health insurance for the infant, he tried to switch to being a profession worker, however was denied. 

‘On the Pleasure of the Administration’

On Jan. 29, 2021, 9 days after Biden took workplace, an e mail  went out to a number of Division of Homeland Safety staff from Angela Bailey, chief human capital officer for the company. The topic line learn “FLAGGING: Request for remark from Politico—further supplies.” 

Bailey’s memo referred to a press release for Politico, the Washington-based information outlet, from DHS’ Workplace of the Basic Counsel:

CLEARED STATEMENT FROM OGC: Paid Parental Go away, a type of Household and Medical Go away, affords eligible present staff with pay for absence from work. It’s not severance pay. Political appointees serve on the pleasure of the administration. When an administration ends, so does the employment of its political appointees. 

The identical memo added extra info, noting it was from administration to staff and never meant for the press:

FROM MGMT: We DO NOT have resignation letters from Brief and Bars. As I discussed, they’re not being paid and not have DHS entry.

Within the portion for DHS administration and never meant for the press, Bailey’s e mail is a bit more blunt about Brief and Bars. 

“Backside line is that they’ll obtain the PPL [paid parental leave], although we all know they’ll’t meet the 12-week requirement,” Bailey wrote, which means that the couple wouldn’t be employed by DHS for 12 weeks after the Dec. 18 beginning of their son. 

“However, it ends with their termination on the twentieth,” she wrote of the go away. “It’s not a way or cause to maintain them past the twentieth.”

On Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, Bars and Brief every obtained a “advantages separation letter” by e mail from the Division of Homeland Safety. Bars replied to the company that each have been nonetheless on parental go away. His spouse didn’t get the same letter.

Since Bars believed that each have been on paid parental go away, he instructed The Each day Sign, he didn’t ship a letter of resignation. He stated every of them was “owed a number of hundreds {dollars} for unused trip days.” 

“We by no means issued any sort of resignation in anyway as a result of we didn’t need to disqualify ourselves from the prospect that our medical health insurance would proceed to be honored as initially indicated for months,” Bars instructed The Each day Sign. 

“No discover of termination was ever obtained from DHS apart from the ambiguous ‘separation package deal’ that was emailed on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 30,” he stated, including later: “We have been each on parental go away on the time, however no reference to it was ever made and every little thing simply stopped.”

Bars was capable of get a job that additionally offered medical health insurance for the household. 

Bars and Brief each stated their son, who turned 2 in December, is doing properly now. And as of July, he has a new child brother.

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