Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made the case for federal paid family leave on Tuesday when she pointed out that most women who receive paid family leave through their employers get less time with their children than a dog would with its puppies.
The congresswoman spoke during Tuesday’s House Oversight and Reform Committee’s panel on paid family and medical leave, the first hearing held by the committee’s new chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who took on the role after Rep. Elijah Cummings passed away this October.
During the hearing, Ocasio-Cortez asked panelist Vicki Shabo the average length of paid family leave given in the workplace in the United States. Shabo, who according to Newsweek is a senior fellow of paid leave policy at New America, a left-leaning policy think tank, responded that in general it’s six to eight weeks, though she clarified that there’s not a great sample on the subject.
In response, Ocasio-Cortez asked the panel: “Do we know how long puppies are allowed to stay with their mothers after a dog has given birth?” (They didn’t.) “Eight weeks,” she said. “So the market has decided that women and people who give birth deserve less time with their children than a dog. And I think that that, at its core, had shown that the market has failed to treat people with dignity and with basic respect. So when that happens, I think it’s our job as the public to redefine the rules of society and to treat people who give birth with the dignity that they deserve.” (Ocasio-Cortez currently gives her congressional staffers 12 weeks of paid family leave.)
On the ASPCA’s website, the organization spells out its position on the conditions that must be met in order to transport animals, one of them being that puppies must be at least eight weeks old or be transported along with their mother.
Newsweek also reported that, shortly before the hearing, Congress reached a tentative agreement on paid parental leave for federal employees, in exchange for the creation of the Space Force as a new branch of the military. If passed, more than two million workers would be given 12 weeks of paid leave.