New paid family leave bill unveiled in Washington

08/03/2018 12:18 PM

By: Samantha Jo Roth

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Florida Senator Marco Rubio has unveiled a new plan to provide family leave for parents in a bill backed by President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.

  • Economic Security for New Parents Act
  • Allows new parents to draw paid leave from Social Security
  • Parents would have to push retirement start date back

The Economic Security for New Parents Act would allow parents to receive paid family leave by drawing from Social Security — money reserved for retirement or disability.

Workers would then delay taking Social Security for three to six months when they retire.

It’s estimated that just more than one in 10 workers receives paid family leave.

“The best thing we can do for kids in America is allow their parents more time with them, especially early in life,” said Sen. Rubio, R-Florida. “All we do is we are going to create an option that allows parents to take their benefit under Social Security and take some of it early if they choose to do so, as opposed to later.”

Rubio’s bill would allow parents to get paid for a short time in exchange for pushing back or delaying the date they would start receiving Social Security for retirement. They would receive monthly payments and it would allow for 12 weeks of paid leave per parent.

However, critics say Senator Rubio’s proposal doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t include medical leave and because workers shouldn’t have to choose between retirement security and caring for a new child.

“It’s parental leave only, which cuts out 75 percent of the Family and Medical Leave Act-type leave for family caregiving, or personal medical leave or military families,” said Vicki Shabo with the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Shabo, who testified before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on the topic earlier in July, does not want Social Security to be used as a way to fund the leave.

“It would ask people to take a penalty with their Social Security benefits, without adding any new revenues into the Social Security system,” she said.

Rubio’s proposal will now compete with several others in the Senate.

“Well we hope we can get people on board, there are still some things we’ve got to work through,” Rubio said. “But, it was time to act, as far as we were concerned, to get the ball rolling. The most important thing, I think we can all agree is that our kids are top priority.”

The senator is unveiling the plan with Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner. He was developing it with a few other Republican senators, but he has lost some of his original co-sponsors over differences in opinion on how flexible the benefits will be.

“The fundamental idea of giving working parents the flexibility they need to make Social Security work for them so they can take time off to care for a new baby, is worth exploring,” said Sen. Joni Ernst R-Iowa.

“Sen. Rubio and I just have some disagreements about the scope of that flexibility, but [Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah] and I intend to continue to work on a paid-leave proposal that we hope we all can support,” she said.

Democrats also have been floating Paid Family Leave proposals as well — New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand would like to slightly raise the payroll tax to fund up to 12 weeks of family or medical leave.

As lawmakers continue to look for ways to tackle this problem, it’s clear members of Congress have similar goals, but different approaches.

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