Rubio introduces 'conservative' paid family leave bill; Ivanka Trump says Congress isn't likely to act this year 

Ivanka Trump said she doesn't think the current Congress is likely to act on paid family leave legislation. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Sen. Marco Rubio has officially introduced his "conservative" solution to paid family leave in Congress. 

The Economic Security for New Parents Act (PDF) would allow new parents to pull from their Social Security benefits to cover parental leave, but they would in exchange have to delay retirement for three to six months to offset those costs. 

The Florida Republican and the bill's sponsor in the House, Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., said in an editorial for USA Today that the legislation addresses "the social insecurity of our time." 

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"The financial constraints workers face in the first few weeks after having a child and those after turning 65 years old are not equal," Rubio and Wagner wrote. "Our proposal would be a consistent application of Social Security's original principle—to provide assistance to dependents in our care—to the challenges of today." 

Rubio unveiled his plan in a video posted to his YouTube channel in June.  

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The bill is likely to face significant resistance from Democrats in Congress. A competing bill, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, called the FAMILY Act, is modeled after programs in states such as California and New Jersey and would fund leave through payroll taxes. 

The Independent Women's Forum, a conservative nonprofit, said in a statement that Rubio's plan is the "fiscally responsible and modern solution" to address paid family leave. 

"The Rubio bill is a win-win for everyone: women, families, employers, employees and the economy," the forum's president, Carrie Lukas, said. 

The American Sustainable Business Council, a policy advocacy group for "responsible businesses," warned, however, that the benefits of Rubio's plan are limited. 

"Senator Rubio's bill presents a cruel choice to American employees," ASBC Policy Director Christine Blackburn said. "They should not be forced to choose between taking the leave they need now or full retirement benefits." 

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The fight over the best solution to paid family leave is not likely to be resolved soon. Ivanka Trump, for whom paid family leave has been a key agenda item, said at an event Thursday morning that it is unlikely legislation on the issue will be passed this year. 

Trump said at the event, which was hosted by Axios, that other legislators that she has worked with on family leave also intend to release their own plans. A bipartisan solution, she said, will be necessary to get something done. 

Trump said she spent much of her first year making the business case to Republicans on why family leave is important and would not amount to creating another entitlement program. It can improve employee morale and retention, for example, she said. 

"I view it as a widely bipartisan issue," Trump said. "What's changed is it's now bipartisan on the Hill." 

Though a quick resolution isn't likely, Trump said she is "cautiously optimistic" that Congress could tackle family leave next year, following the election. 

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