WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – As the Senate impeachment trial ramps up, other congressional priorities, like paid family leave, are being pushed to the sidelines.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has been working on a President Trump-approved plan to make paid family leave more available and childcare more affordable for all employed new parents.
“The impeachment process is just sucking the oxygen out of the legislative room,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA.
Instead of debating legislation, senators— like Cassidy— will devote six days a week to considering the president’s removal.
“We’re dealing with something which is a pretty weak case,” Cassidy said. “It’s just working against working for the American people.”
Before Christmas, Congress passed and the president signed 12 weeks of guaranteed paid parental leave for federal workers.
Cassidy has been working on a bill that would allow new moms and dads to get an advance on their child tax credits, which they could use to stay home with their baby or pay for daycare and other expenses.
“Our goal is that everyone, even if their employer cannot afford to offer, would nonetheless have access to paid family leave,” Cassidy said. “That new mother who wants to stay at home and breastfeed, which would be good for her, good for the baby and good for society, would have the ability to do so.”
Families would get the $5,000 upfront when a child is born but would get $500 less in their child tax credit in each of the next ten years.
Another bipartisan plan in Congress would offer families new benefits. However, since that one would raise taxes, the president supports Cassidy’s option.
“American families are coming first,” Trump promised during a paid family leave summit at the White House in December.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without paid family leave.
A handful of states have passed policies on their own, but more and more members of Congress are starting to support a federal mandate.