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March 27 2019

GOP lawmakers offer paid parental leave legislation linked to Social Security

The Hill
featuring Carrie L. Lukas

A group of Republicans on Wednesday introduced legislation that would allow people to pull forward some of their Social Security benefits to use for paid parental leave — the latest effort from Republicans on paid leave in recent weeks.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced legislation in the Senate, while Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) offered a companion bill in the House.

"Our proposal would enact paid family leave in America without increasing taxes, without placing new mandates on small businesses," Rubio said in a news conference.

Under the legislation, new parents would have the option to get early Social Security benefits for up to three months to finance paid parental leave. A fact sheet from Rubio and Romney said most parents below the median household income would be able to receive a benefit that would replace about two-thirds of their wages.

In exchange for receiving the paid parental leave benefit, people would either have to increase their Social Security retirement age by several months or get a reduction in their monthly Social Security benefits for the first five years of their retirements.

The legislation comes amid a renewed push for paid family leave from policymakers on both sides of the aisle, though Republicans and Democrats are taking different approaches in their proposals.

Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) rolled out a proposal earlier this month that is similar to the new GOP bill. The draft legislation from Lee and Ernst would allow new parents to receive up to three months of paid parental leave in exchange for delaying collecting Social Security benefits by up to six months when they retire.

Additionally, Lee, Ernst, Rubio and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) last month met with Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and adviser, to discuss paid family leave.

Republican proposals to link paid parental leave and Social Security are inspired by a proposal from the conservative Independent Women's Forum (IWF), which praised the legislation offered Wednesday.

"It expands access to paid parental leave in a fiscally responsible, fair, and flexible way," IWF President Carrie Lukas said in a statement. "It would modernize an existing government program that workers already pay into to allow them early access to benefits they’ve already earned."

Meanwhile, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats reintroduced their own paid family leave bill last month, which would allow people to take paid family and medical leave for up to 12 weeks and would be paid for through small increases in payroll taxes.

Supporters of Gillibrand's bill have criticized GOP proposals, arguing that people shouldn't feel like they have to choose between paid leave and receiving Social Security when they retire. They've also criticized Republican proposals for focusing solely on parental leave without also providing a benefit for people caring for a sick family member or dealing with their own illness.

"There is clear bipartisan agreement that we have a paid leave problem, but proposals like this fall far short of the policy solutions we need," said Brianna Cayo Cotter, chief of staff for Paid Leave for the United States.

 


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Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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