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Former Obama aide challenges Ivanka Trump on paid family leave: 'she wants bipartisan solutions?'

Elise Solé
Ivanka Trump is being challenged for her views on paid family leave. (Photo: Getty Images)

Ivanka Trump is being questioned for her stance on paid family leave by a former Obama aide who says Democrats deserve the credit for encouraging the initiative.

On Wednesday, after Trump wrote an op-ed for Fox News on the benefits of paid family leave, which includes better bonding between parent and child and higher employee commitment, Chris Lu, former deputy secretary of labor and assistant to President Obama, tweeted a response. “Democrats have led the way on #PaidLeave for years. The FAMILY Act by @SenGillibrand and @rosadelauro is supported by a wide range of stakeholders including business leaders.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposed FAMILY Act, formally known as the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act would provide employees with up to 12 weeks of limited income (66 percent of their monthly earnings) for pregnancy or postpartum care. 


The first daughter and mother-of-three replied, tweeting, “This is true. That said, it is been 25 years since FMLA passed and we are still at zero weeks of paid leave. There has yet to be a plan presented w/ bipartisan support from lawmakers. Both sides need to come together on a solution that can garner the votes be signed in to law.”


Lu responded, “I’ll give her credit for responding to me and acknowledging Democratic leadership on #PaidLeave” adding, “But she wants bipartisan solutions? Where was that sentiment on healthcare, taxes, gun control, immigration or judges?”


On Tuesday, citing the country’s declining fertility rates — which the New York Times attributes to delayed marriages and increased use of contraceptives — Trump wrote, “Some 25 years ago, Congress passed, with bipartisan support, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. The legislation granted eligible American workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Now we have a historic opportunity to build on this progress.”

The 36-year-old wrote, “Without debating the value and merits (of which there are many) of paid leave legislation supported by members of the Republican and Democratic parties, we must recognize their failure to gain majority consensus within or across party lines. Hence, our focus must turn to policy ideas that can secure congressional approval.”

Trump also underscored a provision in The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which would provide business credit to companies that offer employees up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.

On Wednesday, paid family leave was the central topic at a Senate hearing, which Trump attended. “I thought it was an excellent hearing,” she said, according to The Hill. “To make progress and advance legislation that can be signed into law, we need to bring both sides together to discuss the merit of different policy proposals and ultimately bridge the differences. And I’m hopeful this is a step in the right direction.”

During the meeting, per The Hill, there was a debate between Republicans who pushed a plan for parents to use their Social Security benefits to pay for leave in exchange for retiring later in life and Democrats like Gillibrand who promoted the FAMILY Act. 

Trump has made family leave one of her central platforms since her father, President Donald Trump, took office. In 2017, Marissa Kraxberger, a former employee of Trump’s eponymous fashion brand, told the New York Times that in 2013, she was offered a position without maternity leave benefits. “Well, we don’t have maternity leave policy here,” said Trump, according to Kraxberger. “I went back to work one week after having my child, so that’s just not something I’m used to.”

Company president Abigail Klem added that the brand ultimately provided a two-month family leave plan. 

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