WASHINGTON — While working on a plan for paid family leave over the past several months, Louisiana’s senior U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican, has teamed up with a seemingly unlikely ally, U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat who joined the Senate just seven months ago.
Cassidy and Sinema are expected to unveil the paid leave proposal that they have been working together to finely tune in the next couple of weeks, for people with newly arrived children.
“We’re the only bill out there that has bipartisan support and also the support of a key figure in the administration,” Cassidy said of the optimism surrounding the proposal.
That "key figure in the administration" he alluded to is Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser in the Trump administration.
Cassidy has met with Trump multiple times on the proposal and recently gave her a preview of what they have planned.
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“She is very appreciative of the innovative way in which we are putting the program together,” Cassidy said of their meeting that took place in his office that's adorned with LSU and Saints gear, a Rodrigue "Blue Dog" painting and other Louisiana memorabilia.
Cassidy and Sinema have held off making many details of their proposed family leave policy public, saying they still need to brief other members of Congress.
But Cassidy said it would not impose a mandate on employers and would not cost taxpayers. It also would include the option to use the “paid leave” to supplement child care costs if a parent doesn’t stay at home.
“We feel very pleased about it,” Cassidy said. “We think we’ve come up with a good financing mechanism.”
In recent months, Cassidy and Sinema, who took office in January, have been meeting with stakeholder groups and getting input from family advocates from both sides of the aisle, he said.
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“Some will say, 'You don’t go far enough.' We may not go far enough, but it's still better than doing nothing," Cassidy said. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a law that provides for paid family leave.
The Louisiana Budget Project, which advocates on behalf of low- and moderate-income households in Louisiana, released a report earlier this year that concluded most Louisiana workers don't have access to paid leave benefits and those who do are likely to hold the highest-paying jobs.
"This leaves most low-wage workers facing a terrible choice between keeping food on the table and caring for themselves or their family when an unexpected illness arises," Budget Project analyst Stacey Roussel wrote in the report.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy found bipartisan agreement on offering working Americans paid family leave at a Wednesday subcommittee hea…
Paid family leave is an issue that has increasingly won support in Congress and the general public. With Ivanka Trump identifying the issue as a key priority, it has gained even more momentum.
“It’s exciting to see momentum on paid family leave as bipartisan proposals are taking shape to support America’s working families,” she recently told Time magazine.