GOP skeptical of Trump plan for paid parental leave

GOP skeptical of Trump plan for paid parental leave
© Greg Nash

Republicans appear skeptical of President Trump’s proposal to spend $19 billion over the next 10 years on paid parental leave.

“I’ve always had concerns about more federal mandates on employers,” Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid Graham warns Trump on Taliban deal in Afghanistan: Learn from 'Obama's mistakes' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid MORE (R-S.C.) told The Hill. “I can think of a million things that are good for employees, that are important in people’s lives. The question for me is how many jobs do you lose?”

Graham said it’s a “worthy endeavor” to provide assistance to people who recently had a baby, but “you have to look at the economic impact it’ll have on hiring.”


The budget request Trump released Tuesday calls for spending $19 billion over 10 years to require that states provide parents and adopted parents six weeks of paid parental leave as part of unemployment benefits. The idea has been championed by first daughter Ivanka Trump.

The figure in the budget is less than the $25 billion that Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, initially said the plan would cost on Monday. 

Trump’s budget says states would be given “broad latitude to design and finance the program.”

But if a state doesn't have enough money in its unemployment trust to pay for the benefits, they would be required to raise their payroll taxes or the federal government would do it for them, according to Marc Goldwein, senior policy director and senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Trump’s budget estimates $13 billion of the $19 billion cost would be paid for by the higher payroll taxes. Another $2.2 billion is expected to come from reducing unemployment fraud, while another $4 billion is estimated to come from efforts to get people on unemployment back to work. 

“I actually kind of think it’s a decent package,” Goldwein said. “When you compare this to what we have now, which is nothing, this does feel like a net improvement in terms of paid leave.” 

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDemocrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Bottom Line Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador MORE (R-Okla.) said Trump angered some Republicans in offering a paid leave plan.

“There are were some Republicans who were upset with him,” he said.

“Some of them said that’s not really the position of what we were trying to do to make America great."

While Inhofe said he’s glad Trump offered the plan, he wants to look it over before he’ll say whether he supports it. 

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (R-Texas) said he plans to take a close look at the individual proposals in Trump's budget, including the paid parental leave proposal.

"I am glad to see the president submitting a budget that exercises considerable fiscal restraint," he said. 

"That is a marked difference from eight years of profligate spending under President Obama. No doubt Congress will make some prioritization decisions that are different than the president’s proposed budget; that is always the case." 

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah), meanwhile, seemed to support Trump's plan.

"I’m not against parental leave," he said. "I’d have to look at it and see how the cost figure out, but I’m for it."

Democrats, who have championed paid family leave, were quick to denounce the proposal.   

“I think it's a good start, but totally inadequate funding for paid family leave,” Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Top aide Jeff Weaver lays out Sanders's path to victory MORE (I-Vt.) said at a press conference.

“The funding for this proposal is minuscule compared to what the needs are."

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe Democrats demand Trump officials withdraw rule on transgender health The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate MORE (D-Wash.), who championed the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993, slammed Trump's plan.

“It is simply wrong that workers in our country are still forced to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one and earning a paycheck — and an unfunded proposal like the one President Trump put forward doesn’t offer them any real solution, especially on top of all the other ways his budget would undermine investments in families’ health and financial security," she said in a statement.

"This is a serious economic challenge for people across the country and if President Trump truly wanted to help, he would understand that window-dressing just isn’t enough.”

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers are required to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. 

Niv Elis contributed to this report.