Dems propose expansion of work flexibilities for nursing mothers

The Supporting Working Moms Act, introduced by Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Finance: Fed steady on rates; Dems rally behind retirement rule Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico pressure builds; Big tariff vote Wednesday Senate votes to increase wind energy funding 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 HarkinDo candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? The Hill's 12:30 Report Mark Mellman: Parsing the primary processes MORE (D-Iowa) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Regulation: FDA campaign targets smoking in LGBT community Warren presses White House to move ahead on overtime rules Clinton: There are a lot of qualified people for VP 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.

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