Ivanka Trump revealed Wednesday that paid family is next on the Trump administration’s agenda.
The senior White House adviser said the administration will initiate a full-court press on Congress to pass a national paid family leave program after it finishes with tax reform while she spoke at a conference geared toward women in India.
‘Coming into the New Year, you will hopefully see it in a national paid family leave program that we’re working hard to build coalitions of support for,’ Trump said of the White House’s desire to implement ‘policies that support the modern working family.’
The president’s daughter reminded her audience that a federal leave program was part of her father’s first, White House budget.
‘I’m very encouraged by that step, and we’ll be working with Congress to try and pass what is a long overdue policy.’
Trump’s announcement, during a panel on workforce development, was applauded by the entrepreneurs attending the summit.
Allies of the administration, however, were left scratching their heads.
Senior Republican congressional aides were unaware of any such plans. A source on the right with knowledge of the issue was ‘surprised that this was going to be the priority.’
Establishing a federal paid family leave program is a leading aim of the president’s daughter. She has been lobbying Republican lawmakers on a set of reform since her father became the party’s standard bearer.
In a previous ask, Ivanka Trump challenged Republicans to pass legislation granting six weeks of paid family leave to new and adoptive parents. That version of the program, which she managed to insert into her father’s fiscal year 2018 budget, utilized state unemployment programs to distribute the funds.
The White House estimated the program would cost $25 billion over the next decade.
She has signaled her openness to other payment and leave structures since then, including a nonrefundable, 25 percent tax credit for businesses that voluntarily offer four to 12 weeks of paid leave that was proposed in the Senate by Florida Republican Marco Rubio.
Tax legislation that comes for a vote this week in the Senate includes a paid family leave provision – but it does not have the heft of Ivanka’s leave program.
The provision, heralded by Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, is significantly weaker than the 12 weeks of paid leave that national Democrats are proposing.
Fischer’s measure gives companies that offer at least two weeks of paid leave a tax credit comparable to 25 percent of the affected worker’s salary.
Included in a rewrite of the GOP’s tax overhaul bill when the legislation went through committee, sources familiar with the issue said it’s unlikely that the proposal will make it into the law.
A senior White House official declined comment earlier this month on Fischer’s push, and Ivanka made no mention of it on Wednesday as she spoke about paid family leave at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India.
The topic came up as the president’s daughter discussed the cultural and social blockades for women in the workplace.
America’s institutions ‘were not set up with the assumption that there would be two parents in the workforce, so we just have to fundamentally change things,’ she was saying.
In the corporate world, particularly in the areas of technology and finance, businesses are introducing flexible work programs.
Those enhancements are beneficial for affluent Americans who are already making large amounts of money – ‘not for women working at the lower-income end of the spectrum,’ she said.
‘So I think that’s where government policy comes in, and we need to start thinking about ways to support the modern workforce, and the modern reality of dual-income households.’
Trump, a successful business owner with three children, said ‘its incredibly important’ to her that ‘we have policies that support the modern working family.’
‘You see in tax reform the expansion, the vast expansion of the child tax credit, recognizing the massive investment parents make into their families at a time when wages have stagnated for so long, and working parents really need relief,’ she stated.
The White House adviser referenced the child and dependent care tax credit, which covers up to 35 percent of costs at a limit of $3,000 for every qualifying person and remains unchanged in an already-passed House tax bill.
‘Tackling the cost of childcare, and the fact that it’s not only inaccessible in large portions of the country, particularly in rural areas, but the cost is enormous to, to many American parents, and they’re unable to afford to provide high-quality child care,’ she continued, ‘So that’s another issue we’re addressing.’
Ivanka Trump said then that ‘you see some of that agenda coming to life through components of tax reform,’ the current focus of the the administration.
A measure in the Senate tax bill that was proposed by Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer would give companies that offer their employees at least two weeks of paid family leave a tax credit comparable to 25 percent of the removed worker’s salary
Trump is seen meeting with GOP members of Congress at the Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill in September of 2016. Fischer is seated at the front
Ivanka Trump shakes hands with Capitol Police officers as she leaves the U.S. Capitol last week after a pro-tax reform event
‘And coming into the New Year, you will hopefully see it in a national paid family leave program that we’re working hard to build coalitions of support for,’ she asserted.
‘The president included it for the first time ever in his budget this year, paid family leave, maternity, paternity and adoption, and I’m very encouraged by that step. We’ll be working with Congress to try and pass what is a long overdue policy.’
A senior leadership aide told DailyMail.com earlier in the fall, when House Republicans were passing their budget, that there is ‘no appetite’ to tackle a paid family leave program within the broader caucus.
Asked about the issue again in the context of Ivanka Trump’s comments, the aide said that nothing has changed.
If the 36-year-old White House aide wants to see a paid family leave program passed, she will most likely need the help of congressional Democrats.
More than 100 Democratic members signed on to a letter in June smacking down her previous paid family leave proposal.
House Democrats told her father: ‘We appreciate your interest in paid leave; however we are concerned that the proposal included in your 2018 budget request is inadequate because it only provides six weeks of paid leave for limited circumstances and without a solid funding mechanism.’
Democrats favor a comprehensive leave policy that allows workers to take time off for reasons other than a newborn child.
A program approved by New York this year takes the money out of workers’ pay checks. It starts slow, at eight weeks in 2018, and scales up.
Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative conglomeration of women, said a national paid family leave initiative is a ‘tough policy’ to implement.
Paid leave ‘can backfire on workers and the economy’ if the government takes the approach that one-size-fits all.
‘I think it’s a very interesting idea and worth exploring how you could improve the unemployment system to provide support like this,’ Lukas said of Ivanka Trump’s original plan.
The association head said she favors the idea of helping low-income workers who must take time off stay in the jobs they already have.
‘I appreciate what they’re trying to do, which I think is to try to find a way that avoids a sweeping new entitlement program, or a huge business mandate, and to target aid at those who really need it,’ she said, ‘but I feel like we would need to see a lot more about how this would work in practice and what the costs and unintended consequences would be.
‘But I think its a great conversation to start having.’