Dems propose expansion of work flexibilities for nursing mothers

The Supporting Working Moms Act, introduced by Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Wells CEO Stumpf resigns from Fed advisory panel Senate Dems call for investigation into Wells Fargo's wage practices MORE (D-Ore.), would seek to expand current law to cover millions of salaried workers.

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Merkley said a recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report illustrates why it's necessary to expand the program. That report said businesses that give more leniency to breastfeeding mothers experience "lower health care costs, lower rates of absenteeism, and better retention of experienced employees."

"Breastfeeding is good for babies, it's good for moms, and it's good for business," Merkley said in a statement released on his website.

The HHS report, "The Business Case for Breastfeeding," said that on average, each milk expression session lasts a little more than 15 minutes long, and that breastfeeding employees usually need no more than an hour each work day to tend to that process.

So far, Merkley's legislation has garnered local support from Dr. Marion Rice, the Director of the Breastfeeding Coalition of Oregon as well as Portland's Chief of Police, Mike Reese. The measure is co-sponsored by Sens. Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Cybersecurity: FBI probes possible hack of Dems' phones | Trump's '400-pound hacker' | Pressure builds on Yahoo | Poll trolls run wild Wells Fargo board to decide on executive clawbacks Labor Department launches Wells Fargo review MORE (D-Mass.).

Merkley also has a partner in Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who yesterday introduced H.R. 1941, which is the House companion bill.