President's 2018 budget to include paid family leave

Xavier Trudeau
Mai 20, 2017

President Donald Trump's budget proposal next week will include a new benefit for America's working parents, one Democrats have long championed and Republicans have long opposed: paid family leave.

But Trump's daughter Ivanka, who also acts as an assistant to the president and has been a chief advocate for the policy inside the White House, is expected to play a central role in discussions about how to construct it.

Trump's push marks a key departure from Republicans' traditional opposition to paid family leave, a benefit long espoused by Democrats.

Trump's proposal will also call for spending $200 billion in federal funds over 10 years to spur investment in the nation's infrastructure, according to another US official familiar with the plan.

Under the newest proposal, fathers and adoptive parents would also qualify for the financial relief, which would be paid through the country's unemployment insurance system.

The program is expected to cost around $25 billion over 10 years, but officials reportedly stayed tight-lipped about where those funds would come from. Although not required by law, 58 percent of companies replace at least some wages for women during maternity leave, while 12 percent cover some leave for fathers, the Washington Post reported. Experts say that in order to balance the budget in ten years, the plan will likely have to assume tax rate cuts are largely offset by the elimination of deductions and exemptions that the administration so far hasn't specified.

It also cuts $200 million in funding for the Department of Agriculture's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program that "provides grants to states for supplemental foods, health-care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children who are at nutritional risk", according to the budget document. Currently, American workers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after a birth, as long as they've worked for a company that employs at least 50 people for a year or longer.

"It's a major step forward, and it's better than zero, which is what parents are guaranteed now", Jeffrey Hayes, program director of job quality and income security at the Institute for Women's Policy Research, told the Washington Post.

Families will also be affected in other ways.

Trump's proposal is unlikely to win much Republican support.

However, the president could meet resistance to his proposals on Capitol Hill. Why is it problematic to leave the administering of paid family leave up to UI offices?

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