Gillibrand invites Trump to talk paid leave
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is renewing her push for nationwide paid family and medical leave. Now, with support for paid family leave growing among Republicans and even President Donald Trump, Gillibrand wouldn’t mind bending the President’s ear on that issue.
“I will sit down with any Republican who wants to talk about a paid leave plan, including President Trump,” Gillibrand said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “It’s an invitation.”
Trump made the pitch for paid family leave during last week’s State of the Union Address “so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.” The issue has long been a focal point for his daughter and Senior White House Advisor, Ivanka Trump.
On Tuesday, Gillibrand and top Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who is sponsoring the House version of the bill, reintroduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, a plan to create a national paid family and medical leave program for nearly every worker in America.
But how to pay for it? That’s where party lines are drawn.
For the FAMILY Act, an employee would buy-in as an earned benefit. The cost would be .2 percent of the employee’s annual income, Gillibrand said. It’s a small cost to solve what supporters see as a growing problem.
“This is a major cause of economic insecurity for American families,” she said. “It’s a major cause of the wage gap for women.”
The proposal would give both new moms and dads up to 66 percent of their paycheck for 12 weeks; and also family members caring for critically-ill loved ones.
Karen Showalter, of MomsRising, was the only caretaker for her two young children when she lost vision in her left eye. She was out of work for weeks. Luckily, she said, her employer offered a paid leave plan of their own.
“Because of my paid leave, I didn’t have to worry about losing my paycheck while getting the treatment I needed,” Showalter said. “Without paid leave, I don’t know what we would have done.”
Trump’s proposal, which is set to be included in his budget, sets where the bargaining begins. His plan calls for just a six-week paid leave and does not include certain provisions featured in the FAMILY Act, including leave for family medical issues.
Right now, the U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world without something like this. With some growing momentum in Congress, Gillibrand is hoping to change that.
“If the C-suite gets paid leave,” she said of white-collar workers, “then the factory floor worker should also get paid leave. This should be for every worker in America.”