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Find Consensus on Paid Family Leave, Trump Tells Lawmakers

Dec. 12, 2019, 5:14 PM

President Donald Trump again voiced his support for federal paid family leave during a White House summit on families and children Dec. 12.

“With more women working today than ever before we now have an historic opportunity to enact long overdue reforms,” Trump said. “It’s time to pass paid family leave and expand access to quality, affordable child care.”

Trump noted that about one out of every four new mothers returns to work within two weeks of giving birth. “We want every mother to have the chance to spend those precious weeks with her newborn or adopted child,” he said. He also said that he was “thrilled” that lawmakers have introduced “really strong, bipartisan legislation” for paid family leave, a nod to the Advancing Support for Working Families Act from Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) that would advance $5,000 to new parents through the child tax credit.

Trump’s call to action comes on the heels of compromise in Congress to pass paid parental leave for federal workers as a provision in the national defense budget. It’s one of the first major outcomes of the progress Democrats and Republicans have made on paid family leave. Lawmakers continue to debate and seek consensus, however, on plans to provide paid time off to welcome a new child, care for a family member, or tend to an illness.

“It’s time to enact further reforms that reflect changes in our homes and places of work,” White House adviser and first daughter, Ivanka Trump, said at the summit. “Lack of child care and paid leave is not a women’s issue—it is a family issue.”

Lawmakers On Board

Several members of the Senate and House who are sponsoring various proposals for federal family leave solutions discussed potential paths forward.

According to Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a sponsor of the CRADLE Act, flexibility for new parents “is key in any plan that goes forward.” She emphasized that the program should be voluntary for workers, and should be inclusive of mothers and fathers. Ernst also said that a federal plan should be as budget-neutral as possible. “Those are some of the key components that we would like to see.”

Cassidy, a co-chair of the bipartisan working group on paid leave under the Senate Finance Committee, told attendees at the summit that members of the working group and their staff have been meeting, and the group is planning to host a round table early next year.

Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), one of the few Democrats to attend the White House summit, echoed the call for bipartisan cooperation on paid leave. “I’m going to continue to fight for paid family leave, and that we get that and we get a bipartisan consensus,” he said. “We can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Increasing Child Care Access

The White House summit also focused on the barriers to child care working families face, rolling out new “Principles for Child Care Reform.”

The proposed changes are meant to give control and choice back to parents, Ivanka Trump said. Additionally, the administration is focused on improving the quality of care; expanding affordable options that meet the needs of each family; and removing regulatory barriers that make it difficult to start in-home or faith-based child education services, she said.

“Together, we have an unprecedented opportunity,” Trump said. “If we work together to put American families first, we can pass paid family leave, expand access to great child care and early childhood education, and give parents greater freedom and flexibility to care for their children.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at gdouglas@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com

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