Written by Robert Harding in the Auburn Pub on Feb 6, 2020

paid leave proposal co-authored by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik received President Donald Trump’s support during the State of the Union Tuesday night.

Trump briefly mentioned paid leave in the lengthy speech. He noted that he recently signed legislation that grants paid family leave to federal workers. Federal workers willget up to 12 weeks of paid leavefor the adoption or birth of a child.

“Now, I call on the Congress to pass the bipartisan Advancing Support for Working Families Act, extending family leave to mothers and fathers all across our nation,” Trump said.

The Advancing Support for Working Families Act is the name of the bill Stefanik, R-Schuylerville,introduced with Democratsin December. The legislation would allow families to receive an advance on the child tax credit for the first year after the adoption or birth of a child.

Families could receive up to $5,000, the maximum amount of the child tax credit, to “fund unpaid time off, infant care and other costs associated with a new child,” according to the bill. It would be repaid over a 10-year period by reductions in future child tax credits.

The House version of the bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, a Texas Democrat. The Senate bill is being carried by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican. Stefanik is listed as a cosponsor. She’s the only New Yorker cosponsoring the measure.

Last week, Stefanik testified at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in support of the legislation.

“I’m grateful President Trump highlighted my bipartisan, bicameral legislation during the State of the Union address,” Stefanik said. “This legislation will support hardworking North Country families during the first year after birth or adoption, allowing them to thrive and bond with their new child without the burden of potential debt or bankruptcy.”

She continued, “This effort is yet another example of the critical, bipartisan work in Congress that I am proud to lead with the support of my colleagues.”

Stefanik told The Citizen in December that the bill is “pro-family” and “pro-business.” She’s described it as the only bipartisan, bicameral paid leave proposal.

Shortly after its introduction, the bill received backing from Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and senior adviser to the president. Stefanik said the legislation is “a compromise that can work.”

There are other proposals in Congress, including a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, that would establish a national paid leave program. While Stefanik’s bill is limited to the adoption or birth of a child, the program proposed by Gillibrand would allow individuals to use up to 12 weeks of paid leave for other events, such as caring for a sick family member.

Another difference between the two bills is how it’s funded. The Stefanik plan would allow new parents to get an advance they would have to pay back. With Gillibrand’s proposal, the program would be funded by a 0.2% payroll tax paid by employees and employers.

But Stefanik believes her bill can advance in Congress because it has bipartisan support. A vast majority of the members supporting Gillibrand’s bill are Democrats. There is one GOP cosponsor in the House: U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican.

“These party line-only legislative proposals do not have a chance of being signed into law in this divided government,” Stefanik said. “This bill does.”

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 orĀ robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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