Will Marco Rubio’s new federal paid-leave legislation be the one to emerge from the pack?

Social security card john q public

By Social Security Administration (Social Security Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced another federal paid leave proposal into the swelling options currently being considered in Congress.

Kicking the can on Social Security.

This bill is being dubbed the ‘‘Economic Security for New Parents Act.”

Unlike, the Workflex bill, which I addressed a few weeks ago, Senator Rubio’s option would not amend ERISA. Instead, it would change the Social Security Act.

According to this release from Senator Rubio, his bill would allow working parents to use some of their Social Security funds to take paid leave for childbirth or adoption. (Under the FMLA, eligible employees get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for childbirth or adoption, among other reasons.) The payment would be a percentage annual income, that percentage declining the more someone earns. Those who take this paid leave would delay the onset of Social Security.

For more on the pending legislation, here is an Op-Ed from Senator Rubio and U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO).

Meh, say opponents.

In an article in the Washington Post, opponents of the bill criticized it for doing too little:

“This proposal forces workers into an impossible position: If they need to cover a medical emergency today, then their Social Security benefits get cut when it’s time to retire,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a statement about Rubio’s bill. “If they need to take care of a sick or dying parent, as three out of four people who need paid leave would use it, they get nothing.”

Incidentally, Senator Gillibrand is a co-sponsor of another piece of competing legislation called the FAMILY Act.

Paid leave might not happen for a while.

According to the WaPo article, Ivanka Trump, who has tried to advance the issue of national paid leave, pumped the brakes.

“Really at this point we’re curating ideas with the hope of being able to build consensus, but it will take time,” she added. “I’m cautiously optimistic that it can happen next year.”

A few weeks ago, a Senate Committee heard testimony on the Workflex Bill. That remains in Committee.

Meanwhile, even if Senator Rubio’s bill emerged and became law, it would sunset at the end of 2023.


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