Spotlight Exclusives

Ivanka Trump: Momentum Building for Paid Family Leave

Spotlight Staff Spotlight Staff, posted on

The push for paid family leave is “really starting to achieve much-needed momentum” on Capitol Hill, Ivanka Trump said Wednesday, saying changing family structures and demographics demand policy responses. “The world has shifted, and our policies need to reflect that shift,” Trump said at an event at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Trump, a White House adviser and daughter of President Donald Trump, acknowledged that finding bipartisan support for paid family leave in the current divisive political climate will be an uphill battle. “Is it going to be hard? Absolutely. If it was easy, it would have been done 25 years ago. I am realistic about the timeframe and the difficulty.”

Trump’s appearance came as BPC has convened a task force, led by former senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Rick Santorum (R-PA), to craft bipartisan proposals for national paid family leave. The two former senators also spoke at the event and agreed that the biggest obstacle to Congressional passage of a bill will be how the measure is paid for.

Santorum said there is increasing recognition among conservatives of the impact of limited parental care and nurturing for infants. He noted that he voted against the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993, “but what I’ve seen over the past 25 years is a real, fundamental shift in what’s going on in families in this country and with demographics. Conservatives are increasingly concerned about the state of newborns and the enormous amount of research about the impact of parents not bonding with their children at this very young age.”

The issue for Republicans, he said, will be funding a new program at a time of rising federal budget deficits and entitlement costs. “There will be a struggle to get resources devoted to this.”

Dodd, one of the key sponsors of the FMLA, said the success of that law and changing family dynamics have led to rising national support for paid family leave. “The country’s way ready for this,” he said. “It’s already being done at the state level. We just need to catch up.”

Trump said she has had encouraging conversations with both Republican and Democratic members of Congress about paid family leave, though she declined to identify members by name, saying her pledge of confidentiality had fostered more open dialogue.

“I took a lot of flak once when I said I don’t view myself as a political animal, and I really don’t,” Trump said. “I care a lot less about the politics of an issue; I care more about bringing people together and finding a solution. In an environment like this, you have to work to earn trust and that’s appropriate.”

“It’s really easy to be in this town and not get things done . . . and we’re not interested in that,” Trump said. “We’re interested in getting things done.”

Other leaders of the BPC task force include former administrator of the Small Business Administration Maria Contreras-Sweet and former Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA).

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