Republican senators push proposed paid leave solution for new parents

(ABC News) – A group of conservative senators is backing a proposal that calls for new parents to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave by using some of their expected Social Security benefits.

Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, appeared before the Senate Finance subcommittee Wednesday to support a proposal released by the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) in January that would allow workers to get paid family leave in exchange for deferred retirement benefits for a short time.

"Common sense tells us that it’s important for parents to spend time with their newborn. The bond that is formed when parents first lay eyes on their child only becomes stronger the longer the time they have to spend together," Ernst said in her opening remarks. "As a conservative, I want to craft paid leave policy that can not only attract consensus, but is viable for families’ employers and the economy, recognizing that working parents, by definition, are an essential part of many businesses."

Ivanka Trump, who backs the proposal as well, attended the hearing but did not testify.

“Preliminary estimates suggest that in order to offset the cost of 12 weeks of parental benefits, new parents electing this option would only need to defer their Social Security retirement benefits by six weeks,” according to the proposal.

For an average wage earner, parental benefits would replace about 45 percent of their wages, according to the proposal.

The proposal also notes that parents would be entitled to take the paid leave anytime in the first year of their newborn’s life.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is expected to introduce legislation on the issue this week, according to The Hill news site.

“We need to find a conservative solution to provide paid family leave in a fiscally responsible way,” Rubio said in a video emphasizing the importance of the issue.

“We are going to make it economical to raise children again,” he added, quoting former President Ronald Reagan from 1986.

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