The Advancing Support for Working Families bill, authored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), would give a $5,000 advance to new parents through the child tax credit. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) are co-sponsors of the bill, introduced Dec. 4. The House companion bill has at least seven co-sponsors from both parties, including Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.).
“There’s a widespread belief among Republicans and Democrats that we need to support families in the child’s first year,” Cassidy said at a Dec. 4 press conference. “And this is a bipartisan, bicameral bill, and a bill that shows that Congress, a divided Congress, can pass something.”
Sinema and Cassidy first released details of their proposal in July. Democrats and advocates for paid leave have said the plan doesn’t guarantee leave to new parents, only providing cash for child care that then is offset by reduced tax credit payments over the next decade. The plan also would rely on job-protected, unpaid leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act available to workers at businesses with at least 50 employees.
But sponsors of the bill see the legislation working in tandem with existing state paid family and medical leave programs and other federal family leave proposals.
“It’s a complement to existing law and existing policy both at local and federal levels, and it’s a complement to other pieces of legislation that have been introduced by our colleagues in both the House and Senate, some of which we’re actually co-sponsors of,” Sinema said.
“One of the things that’s really important to know about the bill is that it is entirely optional for a family to use. So if a family chooses to bring those $5,000 from their child tax credit into their home from that first year of life, they’ll still continue to get their child tax credit in the years to follow, just in a slightly reduced amount,” she said.
Most Democrats support the FAMILY Act (H.R.1185 , S. 463), which creates a federal paid family and medical leave social insurance program funded through a payroll tax, modeled on existing paid family leave programs in eight states and the District of Columbia.
Republican proposals include the New Parents Act of 2019 (S. 920), sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and the CRADLE Act, backed by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). Both plans give new parents paid leave through early access to Social Security benefits in exchange for delayed or reduced retirement benefits.