President Donald Trump’s nod Tuesday in his State of the Union address to a policy that would provide new parents with paid time off is generating fresh enthusiasm that a bill could pass in the Republican-led Congress.
Trump’s elder daughter, Ivanka, a senior White House adviser, has been pushing for a national leave program since her father was a candidate for office. Republicans had not warmed to her idea to use state unemployment programs to fund a $25 billion six-week policy, however.
Conservatives are rallying now around a budget-neutral approach to provide 12 weeks of paid leave. That proposal relies on the early collection of Social Security benefits.
President Donald Trump’s nod Tuesday in his State of the Union address to a policy that would provide new parents with paid time off is generating new enthusiasm that a bill could pass in a Republican-led Congress
The policy has the support of top-billed activist organizations on the right like FreedomWorks, Americans for Tax Reform, 60 Plus Association, Goldwater Institute and Independent Women’s Forum.
A report on the policy authored by Kristin Shapiro in conjunction with IWF outlines a federal leave program that would allow new parents to put off Social Security collection when they retire as a trade for paid family leave benefits.
IWF met with Ivanka about the proposal twice over the last several weeks. Republican Sen. Mike Lee also met with the president’s daughter in his Capitol Hill office, and she had a positive response to the approach, sources said.
Lee is in the process of developing legislation that codifies the voluntary paid family leave program that trades on Social Security earnings.
Conn Carroll, a spokesperson for the Republican lawmaker told DailyMail.com, ‘Sen. Lee is very proud of what he was able to help accomplish with Mrs. Trump on tax reform and he is hoping to partner with her again to find a limited govt solution to paid family leave.’
A senior Trump aide told DailyMail.com that Ivanka and the White House are committed to getting paid family leave over the finish line.
‘While we are pleasantly surprised by the progress we are making in generating conversation around the issue, we know how hard it is going to be and that for all the talk on the issue, nobody has been able to get it done before,’ the official said.
The senior White House official added: ‘We are committed to it and the priority now is to continue to build a coalition. The plan in our budget last year was to put a flag in the ground and we continue to meet on various options.’
At a November conference organized by the State Department in Hyderabad, India, Ivanka shared the White House’s plans to pursue a national paid family leave program as part of the president’s year-two agenda.
‘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,’ Ivanka offered.
Trump said the White House was in favor of ‘policies that support the modern working family’ and those priorities were reflected in her father’s first annual 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,’ she said.
Asked about the policy debate again after Ivanka Trump said she’d been ‘working hard’ to build support for a bill during the panel at an entrepreneurship conference, a senior Republican aide on Capitol Hill was unmoved.
The aide told DailyMail.com there was ‘no appetite’ to tackle paid family leave in the House of Representatives.
It is unclear where House Republicans are now with key priorities like tax reform out of the way and a budget-neutral option on the table that has the support of leading conservative organizations.
‘I understand Republicans being wary of this issue, but the good news is there are approaches to the paid leave that don’t involve a new entitlement or new taxes,’ said IWF President Carrie Lukas, ‘but we can improve an existing program to provide people with the support they need.’
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump said, ‘Let’s support working families by supporting paid family leave.’ The remark drew tepid applause – but received a standing ovation from his daughter Ivanka
Talking about the GOP’s tax slash law on Tuesday in his State of the Union address, President Trump challenged lawmakers to invest in workforce development and job training.
‘And let’s support working families by supporting paid family leave,’ he said to tepid applause.
Cameras swiveled to Ivanka Trump during the ovation. She and husband Jared Kushner, also a senior White House official, were standing in the gallery and applauding. Other attendees of the speech were less enthused.
Lukas said Wednesday, ‘I think that there has been a belief for a long time that any movement on this requires growing government.
‘I totally understand. Last year I would have been sitting on my hands, too,’ she stated.
The issue is evolving rapidly, Lukas observed. ‘I think in another couple months there will be a lot more people applauding.’
Of a legislative victory this calendar year, Lukas said, ‘I don’t know if that’s realistic. But certainly there is a lot of enthusiasm.’
IWF has been approached by Democrats who showed interest in the Social Security-based family leave approach, she said.
‘This is totally the possibility of being something that could be bipartisan,’ Lukas assessed. ‘They may not want to give the president a win just on principle,’ she further reflected.