A group of Senate Republicans met with Ivanka Trump on Tuesday to begin constructing a tax credit package that could include family leave and other child care proposals.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who touted paid family leave during his 2016 presidential run, said lawmakers and President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter discussed a variety of tax proposals meant to benefit families, particularly those who are low-income.
“It was an introduction to some of the different ideas and different members working on different components, but I wouldn’t view this as just one issue,” Rubio said after the meeting. “Paid family leave is a part of it. I would view it broader, as what does pro-family reform look like.”
The group discussed several current pieces of legislation including a paid leave bill sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. The legislation would allow qualified employers a 25 percent tax credit to cover costs of offering their employees family or medical leave. The legislation is co-sponsored by Maine independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats.
Lee introduced legislation this year that would allow workers to decide whether they would take compensatory time rather than pay for any overtime worked. A similar bill passed the House in May.
Rubio said he also has a proposal to combine different child-related tax credits into a single credit.
“It will be easier for families to use. It will be larger because you’re consolidating all the credits and families can chose to use for anything — they can use it to pay for their kids to go to school, they can use it for child care, they can use it for whatever the family’s needs are at that particular time,” he said.
Rubio said he spoke to Ivanka Trump about a month ago and invited her to the Capitol to hear different family-related proposals. Getting a family-centered proposal into a tax reconciliation bill would be “ideal,” the Florida Republican said, adding that he would be open to moving an independent bill as well.
The White House has shown an interest in paid family leave, proposing a six-week parental paid leave program for the birth or adoption of a child in its fiscal 2018 budget proposal.
But Democrats have said that proposal does not go far enough and have pushed their own 12-week paid leave plan. During a House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee hearing this month, ranking member Rosa DeLauro called the administration’s plan “paltry.”
“The president’s proposal does not reflect the reality that workers face,” the Connecticut Democrat said. “We need a real family and medical leave policy nationwide, funded responsibly and sustainably without cuts to essential programs.”
Fischer, however, said Democrats should consider the budget request.
“It is disheartening to have to look a single mother in the eye and say, ‘No, we don’t have anything for you now because our friends on the other side think it’s not enough,’” the Nebraska Republican said. “When that person knows she can take off a couple hours from work to take her child to the doctors and have it covered, that is enough for her.”