WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy's hoping his paid family leave proposal will get a boost from President Donald Trump after Tuesday's State of the Union address.
During Trump’s address, he called on Congress to pass the Advancing Support for Working Families Act that Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, has taken a lead role in sponsoring.
“Forty million American families have an average $2,200 extra thanks to our child tax credit,” Trump said.
Cassidy, who is up for re-election, has made paid family leave a priority over the past year and has put forth one of the few plans that has gained bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
“I think the president is going to view it as the right policy,” Cassidy said ahead of Trump’s address.
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Under Cassidy’s plan, parents could borrow against future benefits from the federal Child Tax Credit that was doubled under the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. New parents would qualify for a $5,000 advance on the credit when a child is born or adopted. For the following 10 years, those parents would be eligible for a $1,500 Child Tax Credit, instead of the $2,000 credit otherwise allowed. Low-income families that don’t qualify for the max Child Tax Credit and would be burdened by the $500 annual installment would alternately be able to receive the real equivalent of three months of their existing pay and receive an appropriately adjusted credit for 15 years.
Critics of the proposals argue that families shouldn’t have to trade out their existing benefits to tap into paid family leave. It also doesn't provide protections for workers who take time off from being fired.
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Cassidy said he doesn't think employment should come with such mandates.
“It’s in the employer’s interest to keep you employed," he said.
Other ideas include increasing the payroll tax to cover the costs of allowing time off or allowing parents to borrow from Social Security benefits.
Cassidy said he sees his version as a compromise between those proposals.
“Ours hits the sweet spot," he said.
Whether the proposal will gain traction in the current political environment remains to be seen. The issue has been a priority for the White House, as well as Democrats who control the House chamber. But the divided U.S. Congress has found little room for agreement, and the 2020 election cycle threatens progress on even key priorities.
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