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June 20 2017

Ivanka Trump Hits Capitol Hill about Paid Leave

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

During a week that the Trump Administration is focusing on tech policy, Ivanka Trump met with Senate Republicans to discuss paid leave policies.

Ivanka Trump has been instrumental in making family leave benefits a part of the agenda and national conversation. The budget released by President Trump included a plan to provide six weeks of paid leave for moms and dads at an estimated cost of $19 billion over 10 years.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida led the private meeting with Trump and other participants including Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Sens. Rubio and Lee currently have a proposal to boost the child tax credit to $2,500 per child (from the current $1,000 minimum), while Sen. Fischer has proposed a tax credit for businesses that offer paid family leave.

While we don’t have details about the meeting, reports indicate that this was a listening meeting where Ivanka gathered input on proposals and ideas floating in Congress. After the meeting, she tweeted:

@IvankTrump: “Just left a productive meeting on the Hill to discuss issues affecting American working families, including childcare & paid family leave!”

The timing is not coincidental. Congress is working on tax reform which presents a key opportunity for Republicans to entertain ideas for tax policies that impact working families. According to Senator Rubio:

“If we're going to do tax reform and we should, there should be a discussion and hopefully action on how the tax code can strengthen the family, particularly working families who are struggling with the increased cost of everything."

On Fox News, he discussed working with Ivanka Trump on leave policies:

“There's a component of it that I'm working with Ivanka Trump on, but as the pro-family component of it. And we argue that you know, parents should be able to keep more of their own money to raise their children. We're a pro-family party, we believe in strengthening families and, in fact, we'll have a meeting this week with her and a number of Senators and House members to begin to lay out that portion of the agenda."

Some women’s media outlets have already doomed the efforts by Trump, Rubio and Fischer. However, this meeting is an encouraging sign that paid leave policies are working their way into the tax reform discussions giving them a better chance than perhaps a stand-alone bill.

The big question is just what kind of policy might we get? The Trump plan expands Unemployment Insurance (UI) to assist new moms, dads and adoptive parents who lack job-based paid-leave benefits. Alternative plans offer tax credits to businesses or workers and personal savings accounts where workers can deposit pre-tax dollars to replace or supplement income under the existing Family and Medical Leave Act (which gives up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave).

Whatever the plan we end up with, it looks like we’re getting closer to a national paid leave policy that recognizes Washington is willing to help meet the challenges of working women and families with young children.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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