43 million American workers can't take a day off work when they get sick without losing pay -- and President Obama can't change that. Although the president has urged Congress to pass paid sick days legislation, and encouraged states and cities to act in the absence of federal progress, he cannot enact these laws himself. Just yesterday, he was powerless to intervene as Senate Republicans blocked Senator Patty Murray's effort to bring the Healthy Families Act, guaranteeing workers seven sick days a year, to a vote.
When it comes to the segment of the American workforce employed by federal contractors, however, the president has greater authority. As my colleague Jenn Borchetta has explained the President has the power under the Procurement Act of 1949 to prescribe policies and directives that are in his judgment necessary to an economical and efficient system for obtaining property and services. According to a confidential draft leaked to the New York Times, the president is poised to sign an executive order requiring thousands of federal contractors and subcontractors to provide their workforce with paid sick leave.