Ivanka Trump’s next policy push: Paid family leave

Ivanka Trump was on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a series of meetings on the administration’s paid family leave initiative, which appears to be her next major policy push following last week’s women’s economic empowerment initiative.

The daughter and top adviser to the President were scheduled to meet with Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy, Joni Ernst, Mike Lee and Marco Rubio to “continue discussions on the issue,” a White House official said.

Paid family leave is part of Trump’s “American Working Families” portfolio, which has included other initiatives such as vocational education and workforce development.

“It’s encouraging to see members on both sides of the aisle putting forward paid family leave proposals. Twenty-five years after FMLA was passed we finally have bipartisan agreement on the importance of paid leave for working parents. Now we are seeking to build consensus around policy that can garner enough votes to be passed into law,” Trump said in a statement.

This is something she’s been working on with members of Congress and private sector leaders behind the scenes during her two years at the White House, with some tangible progress to date, including a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee led by Cassidy last year.

She spoke about her father’s commitment to pro-family policies on the campaign trail, including during her remarks to the Republican National Convention in July 2016.

“As a mother myself, of three young children, I know how hard it is to work while raising a family. And I also know that I’m far more fortunate than most. American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties, they should be the norm,” she said at the time.

The administration, per the official, “strongly supports a national paid family leave program.”

A bipartisan deal on paid family leave, however, would be a heavy lift in Congress. Democrats and Republicans are still split on how to pay for it and how broad a national paid leave policy should be.

In the past four years, the number of lawmakers supportive of paid family leave has more than doubled. In the previous 115th Congress, 205 members of Congress signed onto some type of paid family leave legislation, compared to just 80 members of Congress in the 111th.

Rubio, a Florida Republican, introduced legislation last year that would allow new parents to finance their paid leave by drawing from their Social Security benefits early.

And Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, has sponsored the Family And Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY), which would give 12 weeks of paid time off for men and women and applies more broadly to those who are taking care of a family member with a serious medical issue.

Democrats reintroduced the FAMILY Act on Tuesday. Now that the Democrats hold the majority in the House, there is confidence the bill will pass there, but it’s unclear how that will play in the Senate where there is a Republican majority.

At a Tuesday news conference, Gillibrand was critical of the Republican version of the bill because it only supports and covers new parents, not families at various stages in life.

The senator told CNN she was willing to talk with President Donald Trump about the legislation. She insisted she would be willing to meet with “any Republican” who wants to discuss the policy, and had already met with Ivanka Trump.