Merkley Announces Key Funding for Nurses, Educators in Appropriations Committee Bill

Bill would make it easier for working parents to return to work after the birth of a new child

Friday, October 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today announced that his legislation, the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act, has passed the U.S. House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support on a vote of 276-149.

The PUMP Act would expand a 2010 law authored by Merkley and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), which provides space and time for hourly employees to pump and store breast milk at work. This enables mothers to continue breastfeeding, which is of enormous value to the health of our infants and mothers. The new legislation would expand these rights to salaried employees. Additionally, the legislation includes an anti-retaliation enforcement provision to grant workers whose employers flout the law with pathways to fight for fair compensation and enforcement of the law.

“No American worker should have to choose between a job and breastfeeding a baby,” said Merkley. “Ensuring that new parents returning to the workplace have the option to continue breastfeeding is good for business and good for families. With this bill, businesses can improve retention of valuable employees, and parents will be empowered to make their own choices, rather than being constrained by outdated workplace policies. With this overwhelming, bipartisan support from the House, I’m hopeful that we can get the PUMP Act through the Senate and signed into law soon.” 

Inadequate time and space to pump in the workplace subjects countless employees to harassment, reduced wages, and job loss, while others are forced to stop breastfeeding—which can create serious health consequences for their own health and the health of their children. According to the Surgeon General, breastfeeding can help protect babies from illnesses like ear, skin, and respiratory infections, diarrhea, and vomiting, as well as longer-term conditions such as obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and asthma. It also lowers mothers’ risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and other ailments.