In order to discuss family and child care policy as she seeks to build momentum around one of her signature issues, first daughter Ivanka Trump huddled with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has proposed incentives for companies that provide paid family leave and has proposed a child tax credit of up to $2,500, spearheaded the meeting. Strategies for promoting paid leave, how to eliminate the marriage penalty and ways to tailor that credit for the working class, were the focus of the discussions, a spokesman said.
The only female lawmakers in the meeting were Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Joni Ernst of Iowa. Trent Franks and David Schweikert of Arizona, Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina also attended the meeting.
Trump was interested in proposals that could garner strong GOP support in the Senate and he was in the “input stage”, Rubio told reporters after the meeting. While he cautioned that the discussions were preliminary, he and Fischer suggested that a provision could be attached to the sweeping tax reform package that lawmakers hope to pass this fall.
“There’s a growing desire in the Republican conference in the Senate and House to address the fundamental fact that there are people in America who have decided they can’t afford to have children because they can’t get a month off of work and not get paid,” Rubio said.
Efforts on making child care more affordable has been the focus of Ivanka. Even as it slashes trillions of dollars in spending on other social safety net programs, in its budget to pay for a national family leave program, she pushed her father’s administration to include $19 billion. States would be responsible for determining benefit levels and the proposal would have been administered through local unemployment offices. But they would average $343 per week, an administration official estimated.
Though they have criticized the first daughter’s approach for not going far enough, a federally funded paid leave program has long been a dream of Democrats.
“As outlined in his budget, President Trump’s paid parental leave proposal threatens to leave out the very workers who need access to robust, comprehensive paid leave benefits the most,” said Sunny Frothingham, senior researcher for Women’s Economic Policy at the Center for Economic Policy, in a statement this month. “Worse, the proposal threatens to put additional strain on an already-underfunded UI system, potentially pitting unemployed jobseekers against new parents.”
And on the other hand, no fans of using federal dollars to fund family leave are the Republicans. That strategy was described as an “outdated, costly federal mandate” by Rubio during his presidential campaign. Instead a 25 percent tax credit was proposed by him to be given to employers who offered at least four weeks of paid family leave. 12 weeks and $4,000 per employee annually was the cap of the credit according to the proposal.
Tuesday’s meeting on Capitol Hill was attended by no Democrats. But in order to hear alternatives to her approach, Ivanka Trump had previously met with both liberal and conservative think tanks. She also signaled that she is open to revising her and has also had dinner with female CEOs about this issue.
(Adapted from Reuters)