Sen. Rubio, other GOP lawmakers unveil paid family leave bill

Initiative has backing of president's daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump

WASHINGTON – Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney and Reps. Ann Wagner and Dan Crenshaw unveiled paid family leave legislation Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill.

The bill would allow working mothers and fathers nationwide to use a portion of their Social Security after the birth or adoption of a child. The parents would be able to take up to three months paid leave or more by delaying retirement for six months per child or receiving a reduced Social Security benefit during the first five years of retirement. 

News4Jax spoke with several parents who have mixed feelings about the proposal to pull from Social Security. Some say it is a step in the right direction. Others say parents should get paid leave without having to touch their retirement. But nearly all of them agreed that overall both parents, especially the mother, deserve more parental paid time off.

Carmelo Pinero is a working father of four who said he only got to spend a day or so at home when his children were newborns. He said that wasn't even close to enough time and that was difficult on his wife.

"It's a lot of stress, especially right after delivery the first couple of months," he said. "So they should be OK to have both take some time off."

Pinero said he supports paid time off for both mothers and fathers, but doesn't think it should affect Social Security. 

Chelsea Handley had similar thoughts, saying she supports more leave but doesn’t support the bill unveiled Wednesday.

"I don’t just because I feel like it’s something we deserve it as a woman," Handley said. "Most countries offer it."

Brenda Carr, who has two children, fully supports the bill. 

"That’s a very good idea because it’s more family time," Carr said. "That’s very important. You don’t want to waste that because when they grow up, it’s over."

Last year, Rubio proposed giving parents the option to pull forward a portion of their Social Security benefits to use for paid parental leave. It would give parents the ability to finance three months of leave or longer in exchange for delayed benefits when they retire.

Earlier this month, two Republican senators unveiled a similar plan, called the Cradle Act, that would allow new parents to receive up to three months of paid-leave benefits after the birth or adoption of a child in exchange for delaying Social Security benefits.

A group of Democratic lawmakers have proposed their own plan, called the Family Act, which would guarantee new parents and other caregivers 12 weeks of paid leave. Payroll contributions of about two cents per every $10 earned would fund this plan. The cost would be split between employers and employees.

Last month, Ivanka Trump, the daughter and top adviser to the president, met with Rubio and Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy, Joni Ernst and Mike Lee to discuss paid family leave, which is part of Trump's "American Working Families" portfolio. That package includes other initiatives such as vocational education and workforce development.

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