The Washington Examiner
President Trump, for the first time, endorsed a bipartisan proposal in Congress to extend paid leave to families after the birth or adoption of a child.
The bill Trump backed in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, the Advancing Support for Working Families Act, would allow parents to draw on future child tax credits to pay for leave.
It leverages a portion of the 2017 Republican tax overhaul, which doubled the child tax credit for parents to $2,000 a year. The bill would give parents the option to receive $5,000 from the child tax credit upfront and then would lower their tax credit to $1,500 a year for the next 10 years. Parents otherwise get $2,000 a year for each of their children under the age of 17.
The bill has the backing of several members of Congress and was led by Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a Democrat. The backing from the president is likely to encourage more lawmakers to sign on. Before last summer, Democrats and Republicans had never aligned before on providing for paid parental leave, but interest in the issue has been growing with the encouragement of senior White House adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump.
Cassidy said after the speech that he knew Trump might endorse the bill but “with President Trump you never assume until it happens.” He said “we are accumulating co-sponsors” and that Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Finance Committee, had committed to getting a score from the Congressional Budget Office, which would estimate how much the bill would cost the federal government and how many people would be likely to take leave.
After that, Cassidy plans to schedule a hearing on the bill as well as other paid leave bills.
Several Democrats, including Sens. Joe Manchin, Reps. Colin Allred of Texas, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, and Jeff Van Drew and Josh Gottheimer, both of New Jersey, are among the co-sponsors.
“It’s great. It’s really well-thought-out, I’m totally in favor of it,” said GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. “I hope we can do it.”
The proposal Trump supports, unlike another idea from Democrats, would not extend to covering lost wages for someone who has to take time off work to undergo medical treatment or care for a sick family member. Most Senate Democrats support a bill from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York that would pay for parental and sick leave through a payroll tax.
The United States stands in contrast to other industrialized nations in that it has not set a mandatory or subsidized leave policy, though Trump signed a spending bill into law that will extend paid leave to federal workers later this year. Under the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act, employers with 50 workers or more must allow 12 weeks of leave every year so employees can care for a new child or an ill relative, but in most cases, the leave isn’t paid.