Senate panel approves domestic benefits bill
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) may be outraging liberals with his opposition to the Medicare buy-in provision and public option in the Senate health-care reform bill, but his sponsorship of a key federal workplace measure showcases him as a progressive in a different arena.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 8 to 1 on Wednesday to approve a bill that grants full domestic benefits to the partners of gay federal employees. Lieberman chairs the panel and co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Lieberman, Collins and Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Paul Kirk (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) voted for the bill while Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) voted no. A House panel approved a similar bill at a contentious hearing last month.
"I believe this legislation really is on the right side of history and supports another concept we believe in, which is equal pay for equal work," Lieberman said at the hearing.
"The basic point here is that federal employees should not have to choose between their commitment to federal public service and their commitment to their families, because they get fewer protections for their families than employees in opposite-sex marriages," he said.
Lieberman and Collins also said they were unhappy with the Office of Personnel Management for failing to provide information on how the Obama administration plans to offset the costs of the bill. Lieberman will hold the bill from a full Senate vote until OPM provides the data.
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| December 16, 2009; 10:54 AM ET
Categories: Congress, Workplace Issues
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