WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) today released the Cassidy-Sinema plan, Congress’ first bipartisan paid leave proposal for American families. The solution gives new parents the option to bring forward their recently increased Child Tax Credit (CTC) to receive a $5,000 benefit, giving them flexibility to cover costs after having or adopting a child.
“There is no bigger kitchen table issue than a mother and a father being able to care for their newborn,” said Dr. Cassidy. “In many cases, the first year of life is the most expensive for a family. This legislation addresses this, focuses resources and eases financial strain to provide a longer bonding period for the family. As a doctor, I know that if a mom and dad are able to have a deeper connection with their child at birth, it’s better for the health of the baby and the mother. We don’t raise taxes, affect Social Security, and there are no mandates on either the family or the employer. This is a common ground solution that can pass Congress and become law.”
“Too many parents are forced to choose between losing time with a new child or taking on debt to make up for lost wages,” said Sinema. “Arizona’s working families deserve better. Our bipartisan bill does not raise taxes or harm Social Security, and represents an important first step, offering parents a new option to finance time off of work or help pay for childcare.”
Congress recently increased the CTC from up to $1,000 to up to $2,000 per year. Cassidy and Sinema’s proposal would allow the parents of a newborn or recently adopted child (under the age of six) to bring forward their child tax credits to receive $5,000 immediately and then receive $1,500 CTC for the following 10 years. This $5,000 can be used to replace income while taking leave from work, or pay for childcare if parents decide to stay at work. For families who do not qualify for the full, refundable CTC, they would be able to similarly bring forward their CTC benefit to receive the equivalent of 12 weeks wage replacement and then receive their adjusted CTC benefit over the next 15 years.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees eligible parents 12 weeks of unpaid leave without the threat of loss of job. Many parents are unable to take advantage of FMLA however because they do not qualify or cannot afford to go without pay for any amount of time. In 2016, 50 percent of Americans who took leave used savings set aside for something else to cover lost wages or salary due to childcare expenses; 37 percent took on debt; 41 percent cut their leave time short.