Ivanka Trump Pitches Paid-Leave Mandate on Capitol Hill

Published July 22, 2017

President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka went to Congress to sell her idea for government-mandated paid parental leave.

Trump met with House and Senate lawmakers on June 20 to promote her proposal for government to require private businesses to provide paid maternity leave for new parents.

President Trump’s budget proposal, published on May 23, includes provisions requiring state governments to fund the new entitlement by expanding the unemployment insurance system to include new mothers and fathers.

Under the budget proposal, the new entitlement program would increase state government spending by about $25 billion a year nationwide.

Ivanka Trump met with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and other lawmakers to pitch the proposed mandate.

No legislation to implement the proposal has been introduced in Congress.

Fuzzy Math

Rachel Greszler, a research fellow in economics, budgets, and entitlements at The Heritage Foundation, says the math behind the proposed mandate doesn’t add up.

“It will run through the states’ unemployment insurance program, but there’s not going to be enough savings within those—if you reduce waste, fraud, abuse, etc.—to still pay for a paid leave program,” Greszler says. “It seems, in the budget, that they’re wanting the states to come up with ways to finance this, and that’s specifically saying there will not be new federal taxpayer dollars for this.”

‘A Positive Step’

Aparna Mathur, a resident scholar in economic policy at the American Enterprise Institute, says she’s happy the president and his family are promoting mandatory paid family leave.

“This has traditionally not been a Republican position, so it was sort of a positive step, in my view, to have President Trump talk about this policy from the White House,” Mathur said.

Few employers either in the government or in the private sector offer employees paid time off after a baby is born, Mathur says.

“If you look at the statistics nationwide, less than 15 percent of employees—and we’re talking about high-wage workers as well—have access to any type of paid leave policy,” Mathur said. “It’s really a situation that we need to address in the U.S., to recognize that this is not just a women’s issue, for families to be able to manage work and childcare. Allowing them those few weeks off with a certain amount of pay is critical so that they can come back to the workforce, that they can be healthy, so that their children can grow up in healthy and safe environments.”