Rubio, Wagner Introduce Paid Family Leave Legislation

August 03, 2018

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) unveiled paid family leave legislation that would allow new parents to delay collecting Social Security payments for three to six months in exchange for at least two months of paid family leave.

The bill does not provide a federal standard or supersede any state or local law providing similar benefits and would sunset after December 31, 2023.

At a hearing last month, fellow Republicans insisted that any plan must not harm Social Security.  Advocates for the bill argue it would not harm Social Security, while detractors attacked the idea on the grounds that it would. 

Despite initial signs of GOP support, Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) decided not to cosponsor the bill, though Sen. Ernst, who is scheduled to speak at the Association's Washington Policy Conference on September 6, mentioned to reporters the two Senators “intend to continue to work on a paid leave proposal that we can all support.”

Not so fast:  Ivanka Trump, who has been pressing for her own paid family leave solution based on unemployment insurance, threw cold water on Rubio’s announcement, asserting in an interview the same day the bill was introduced that because paid family leave will require bipartisan support, we will not see a bill pass in this Congress.

A long runway:  It is highly unlikely the Rubio measure, or any other, sees floor time this Congress.  Yet, the topic of paid family leave continues to receive strong interest by both sides of the aisle—though not without significant differences in approach.  (HR Policy remains strongly committed to Rep. Mimi Walters’ (R-CA) Workflex in the 21st Century Act—H.R. 4219.)  Those differences, however, have prevented any measure from gaining much traction this Congress.  Democrats prefer the FAMILY Act, which would be funded by payroll taxes split between employees and employers.