When President Trump delivered his State of the Union address in February, he became the first Republican president to endorse paid family leave. The measure is widely popular among Americans and is being embraced by a growing number of companies across the country. Trump’s endorsement might deliver the boost it needs to put the practice into law.
During the State of the Union, Trump pledged support for the Advancing Support for Working Families Act, which would allow parents to draw on future child tax credits to pay for leave after the birth or adoption of a child. The bill was introduced in December 2019 by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), demonstrating bipartisan support.
“This is the sweet spot between where Republicans and Democrats can agree,” Cassidy told the Washington Examiner.
The bill leverages a portion of the 2017 Republican-led tax changes, which doubled the Child Tax Credit for parents to $2,000 a year. Under the Advancing Support for Working Families Act, families with children under age 6 would be able to borrow from their future tax credits to cover the cost of taking time off from work to care for a child.
The bill would give parents the option to receive $5,000 from the child tax credit upfront, then their tax credit to $1,500 a year for the next 10 years. It is seen as an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was passed in 1993 and allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave and gives parents the option to use the money however they see fit.
“Not only is it a good solution, but it’s possible in the political world we live in today,” Sinema said at an American Enterprise Institute and Brookings event in September 2019.
While the Advancing Support for Working Families Act has bipartisan support, some Democrats say it does not go far enough because it puts Americans in the position of borrowing against themselves, rather than providing additional government support for families.
In February 2019, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced the FAMILY Act, which would create a separate fund for family leave paid for by a payroll tax increase. It would also establish the Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave within the Social Security Administration to administer the funds.
Regardless of how paid family leave is implemented, it has broad support across the country. According to the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of Americans think new mothers should receive some type of paid leave, and 69 percent think fathers should receive paid leave. Of those groups, however, the majority feel that leave should be paid by employers, not by the government.
Ivanka Trump has been a staunch advocate for paid leave and has worked to gain Republican support in Congress. She was the leader in an effort to secure 12 weeks of paid leave for federal employees in 2019. The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act is scheduled to take effect on October 1.
Despite Ivanka Trump’s endorsement and public support, no legislative action has been taken on the Advancing Support for Working Families Act or the FAMILY Act since they were introduced. It’s unclear when either proposal will move forward.
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