Political News

President's 2018 budget to include paid family leave

Posted May 18

— President Donald Trump's 2018 budget proposal will require states to provide paid family leave programs, a senior budget official said Thursday.

The official said the budget — set to be released Tuesday — will include a plan to provide six weeks of paid leave to new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents. A departure from Republican orthodoxy, the proposal expands on a campaign pledge to provide paid maternity leave, which Trump adopted at the urging of his daughter Ivanka.

The official requested anonymity to discuss budget details in advance.

Under the plan, states would be required to provide leave payments through existing unemployment insurance programs and would have to identify cuts or tax hikes, as needed, to cover the costs. The administration said this approach would give states flexibility and stressed that the administration would provide support to state governments to help them determine how to fund the program. States could opt out if they created a different paid leave system.

Still, the approach would put the burden of funding the program on the states. It also could mean that the benefits could vary greatly by location. Democrats have proposed more expansive programs with different funding streams. During the campaign, Democrat Hillary Clinton pitched 12 weeks of family leave, paid for by taxes on the wealthy.

Trump's proposal is unlikely to win much Republican support. But the president has been an advocate of paid leave, mentioning it in his first speech to Congress.

Trump's broader budget plan promises a balanced federal ledger in 10 years by relying on rosy economic assumptions and cuts to Medicaid and a variety of other benefits programs — though not Social Security pensions or Medicare benefits.

During the budget planning process, Ivanka Trump organized an interagency working group to meet on women and family issues. The group worked on the paid leave proposal, among others.

The administration also noted some other budget items aimed at women and families.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant and Head Start program will maintain the same level of funding. Both fund programs for children.

And two health programs for women and children will get funding boosts. The Maternal and Child Health Block Grant will receive an additional $30 million and Healthy Start another $10 million.

The details provided Thursday were just a snapshot of Trump's budget. The early version of Trump's budget came under fire from family advocates for significant cuts to education, housing and health programs that advocates say could negatively affect women and children.

Advocates for abortion access have also criticized the administration for efforts to restrict funding to Planned Parenthood, saying it would affect women's health. A health care bill passed in Congress would halt most of the organization's federal funding.

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