Ivanka Trump is ready to talk about paid family leave. The 36-year-old mother of three, and White House adviser, wrote an op-ed for Fox News on the subject, arguing that the time for a new national family leave law is nearing. Ivanka Trump's views on paid leave got challenged on social media, too, and the response to the challenge was as interesting as her op-ed itself.
On Wednesday, July 11, Chris Lu, once a member of President Barack Obama's White House, directed a message at Ivanka Trump.
"Democrats have led the way on #PaidLeave for years," Lue tweeted. "The FAMILY Act by [New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand] and [Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro] is supported by a wide range of stakeholders including business leaders."
The purpose of Lu's message seemed clear: an effort to let it be known that while Trump is discussing a push for paid family leave, which may be received as a new and novel idea, two Democrats have already been championing a bill that aims to accomplish paid family leave.
That bill, as Lu mentions, is the FAMILY Act, also more formally known as the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. The FAMILY Act was introduced in the Senate in February 2017 by Sen. Gillibrand, who had been on a streak of introducing paid leave bills for five straight years.
The bill's summary states that, if passed into law, it would entitle an employee to a benefit payment each month during any period that the employee is away from an employer for reasons sanctioned by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), with a few stipulations.
Ivanka Trump's Fox News op-ed made no mention of the FAMILY Act and, after her response to Lu, it appears obvious why.
"This is true," Ivanka Trump tweeted, acknowledging Lu's mention of Sen. Gillibrand and Rep. DeLauro. "That said, it is been 25 years since FMLA passed and we are still at zero weeks of paid leave. There has yet to be a plan presented [with] bipartisan support from lawmakers. Both sides need to come together on a solution that can garner the votes be signed in to law."
The point behind Ivanka's message to Lu was as clear as his initial response to her was: The paid family leave bill constructed by Democrats does not have a chance of passing through a Republican controlled Congress.
In her op-ed, Trump also notes that legislation some Republicans support don't have the backing a majority needed to pass through Congress, either.
"Without debating the value and merits (of which there are many) of paid leave legislation supported by members of the Republican and Democratic parties, we must recognize their failure to gain majority consensus within or across party lines," she wrote. "Hence, our focus must turn to policy ideas that can secure congressional approval."
So what's next?
On Wednesday, the Senate panel scheduled a hearing debate on paid family leave. Plus, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is expected to introduce his own legislation for paid leave in the following days.
"We need to find a conservative solution to provide paid family leave in a fiscally responsible way," Sen. Rubio said.
Rubio's use of "conservative solution" and "fiscally responsible" is the tell there, too. It implies that even the number of Republicans who want to achieve paid family leave, in theory, think solutions that have been proposed thus far simply cost too much money.
But, Ivanka Trump says, that number of Republicans is growing, at least. She wrote,
Social conservatives underscore paid leave as a way to forge more tightly bonded families and protect infants and parents at their most vulnerable. Fiscal hawks recognize the efficiency of increasing workforce attachment and minimizing government dependence. And everyone shares the concern for our country’s plummeting fertility rates, now the lowest in history, and the effect that will have on our society and economy at large.
So, it's clear what anyone interested in the subject of paid family leave will do next. Watch for the types of legislation Rubio — or any other Republican with the help of Ivanka Trump — propose, whether they have significant difference with the FAMILY Act, and whether any new legislation attracts interest from a substantial majority in Congress.