Senate GOP unveils ‘working families’ agenda ahead of midterms

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Senate Republicans on Wednesday rolled out their own policy agenda for middle-class voters in an effort to counter the Senate Democrats’ 2014 platform, “A Fair Shot for Everyone.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) led a news conference Wednesday morning to unveil GOP solutions for working families.

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The campaign-year initiative consists of six bills designed to retrain mid-career workers, give families more flexibility and provide tax breaks for home offices that include baby cribs.

“Some of our members wanted to come together today to talk about some Republican proposals that could immediately be acted upon to improve the lives of working families who are struggling in the Obama economy,” McConnell told reporters.

McConnell on Wednesday introduced the Working Parents Home Office Act, which would allow parents to deduct costs associated with a home office that has a baby crib. Current law disallows a deduction if there is a crib in the office while the parent is working.

“These are just the kinds of things that could make a difference in people’s lives now,” he said.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has introduced the Forty Hours is Full Time Act, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s 30-hour workweek rule.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has introduced legislation, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act, to reform the federal government’s Jobs Corps and other adult education and vocational rehabilitation programs.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offered the Raise Act, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to allow employers to give merit-based raises to employees even if those compensation increases are not part of collective bargaining agreements.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) has endorsed an alternative to the Democrats’ Paycheck Fairness Act. It includes language to prevent employers from retaliating against workers who discuss or inquire about their salaries. It also would not raise caps on punitive damages that employees may seek in courts, a key provision of the Democratic bill.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is pushing the Working Families Flexibility Act. It would let employers offer workers the option of comp time or overtime pay. It would require employers to establish written agreements allowing employees to choose the option that best fits their needs.