Republican Leaders Back Paid Family Leave Proposal: ‘Let’s Fix This’

Reuters /Brian Snyder

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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Republican leaders in Congress pushed the New Parent Act on Wednesday designed to support the families of newborn or adopted children through paid family leave.

Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mitt Romney of Utah, Reps. Ann Wagner of Minnesota and Dan Crenshaw of Texas presented the New Parent Act, which offers parents the ability to claim paid leave benefits for up to three months each time they give birth to or adopt a new child. Workers can take leave by paying social security payroll taxes, and can later repay the leave through reduced retirement benefits from social security for up to five years.

Rubio said Wednesday at a press conference that the New Parents Act intends to realign economic policy with support of American families.

“Our economic policies have left young, working families behind at a time when our marriage and childbirth rates are falling,” Rubio said. (RELATED: Marco Rubio Is More Native American Than Elizabeth Warren)

“Families are forced to choose between their financial well-being and the well-being of their child,” Crenshaw wrote in a tweet. “That’s wrong. Let’s fix it.”

The New Parents Act is the slightly revised version of Rubio and Wagner’s Economic Security for New Parents Act, which was created before Crenshaw or Romney were in Congress.

According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. is the only nation out of 41 others that does not mandate paid parental leave. Those 41 other nations provide at least two months of paid parental leave. Though Americans have been entitled to up to three months of unpaid leave since 1993, only 14 percent of workers have access to paid leave provided by either a private employer or one of the four states (California, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island) that provide it by law.

Winning for Women issued a statement on the bill praising the Republican leaders’ initiative.

“If we want to encourage women to lead, we need to promote policies that reflect today’s workforce and support working mothers and fathers,” Winning for Women spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said.

“Winning for Women applauds Senators Rubio and Romney, and Representatives Wagner and Crenshaw for their efforts to help Americans, particularly working class Americans, start and raise a family. This year alone, Republicans have put forward two bills to make parental leave more affordable. Our grassroots membership is comprised largely of suburban women and working moms, and we’re excited to see Republicans taking on issues that matter to them.”

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