As Ivanka Talks Paid Leave, Female Democrats Meet About An Alternative Plan

Photo: MASSIMO PERCOSSI/EPA/REX/Shutterstock.
Ivanka Trump was widely credited with getting a paid family leave proposal into President Trump's budget plan, and the first daughter and senior advisor has been meeting with key Republicans on the topic this week. Democratic congresswomen are backing their own proposal, and that group gathered on Wednesday to talk about the need for paid time off for everyone.
On Tuesday, Ivanka talked with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) about the Trump administration's family leave plan. And on Wednesday, she met with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other GOP members, tweeting that they were discussing "key issues for America's working families."
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Since 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has given American workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but the U.S. is still the only developed country without federally guaranteed paid maternity leave. The current opposing plans both call for paid time off for new parents, but differ when it comes to the amount of time and what should be covered.
President Trump's proposal, found in his 2018 budget proposal, would guarantee six weeks of paid leave to parents who give birth or adopt a child, funded through the Labor Department's unemployment-insurance program. Estimates say it would cost the federal government $19 billion over a decade.
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) in February that would ensure workers 12 weeks of paid leave. Along with doubling the amount of time workers can take off after giving birth or adopting without missing a paycheck, the FAMILY Act also seeks to cover time off for pregnancy, medical issues, and caring for sick relatives.
The two paid leave plans differ in length of time off — 6 weeks vs. 12 weeks — but they'd also be funded differently: The FAMILY Act calls for a shared fund employees and employers would pay into, with the average worker contributing $1.50 a week.
In a hearing on Wednesday, the Democratic Women’s Working Group heard testimony from paid leave advocates who support the FAMILY Act because it covers more people — not just brand new parents. They told personal stories of their spouses needing time off work to care for them when injured and needing to care for sick parents, putting them and their partners in the difficult position of choosing between caring for a sick relative or bringing home a paycheck.
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"We can’t settle for anything less than strong, inclusive paid family and medical leave," said Vicki Shabo, vice president of National Partnership for Women & Families.
After Trump released his budget proposal, Sen. Gillibrand told Refinery29 a federal paid leave plan needs to provide workers with a sick spouse, a seriously injured child, or a dying parent the same protections as new parents. "Unfortunately, the president’s plan falls woefully short of passing that test," she said.
Even though drastically different, both plans would need congressional Republicans' support for paid family leave that hasn't existed in the past. Ivanka's meetings with members of the House and Senate, some of whom have previously shown an interest in paid leave policies, is a signal that she's trying to build up that support.
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