POLITICS
02/07/2017 02:57 pm ET

Progressives Hang Onto Hopes For Ivanka Trump

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) hopes President Donald Trump would be receptive to a paid family leave plan because his daughter has spoken about the issue.

WASHINGTON ― Progressives wondering whether President Donald Trump will give any notice to their concerns hold out hope that his daughter Ivanka will intervene.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a longtime champion of paid family leave, on Tuesday reintroduced her Family Act, which would guarantee 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for all workers.

The legislation, which proposes a universal paid leave program funded by a small payroll tax, failed to advance in the previous session of the Republican-led Congress, and likely faces the same fate under Trump.

But Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), sponsor of a companion bill in the House, on Tuesday expressed optimism that the president would be receptive, in part because Ivanka Trump has spoken about the issue.

“I am hopeful that the administration will reach out to me and work with me on a national paid leave plan,” Gillibrand said on a call with reporters.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is hopeful that President Donald Trump will be receptive to a paid family leave policy becau
Drew Angerer via Getty Images
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is hopeful that President Donald Trump will be receptive to a paid family leave policy because of his daughter Ivanka.

Gillibrand referenced Ivanka Trump’s speech at last summer’s Republican National Convention, in which she presented her father, who has a record of demeaning women, as a champion for women’s rights and a supporter of equal pay for women. It led many progressives to hope that her influence would encourage — or at least make it possible — that the president pivot from his campaign promises. Ivanka Trump also tried during the campaign to deflect attention away from her father’s history of misogyny and climate change denial.

Last week, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser, reportedly convinced the president not to roll back LGBTQ protections, a important achievement of former President Barack Obama.

Trump’s proposed paid leave plan, like most of his policy proposals, contains little substance and is limited in scope. It allows for six weeks of paid leave, and only applies to mothers.

“I am hopeful that the new administration will focus on it because they did run on it, they did talk about it, and it should be nonpartisan. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Ivanka Trump said in an interview when her father’s leave plan was announced in September that it is intended to “help mothers in recovery in the immediate aftermath of childbirth.” She would not elaborate on whether it would apply to LGBTQ, adoptive or foster parents, or people caring for aging parents.

“We’ll wait to see what the dimensions of it, what the details are,” DeLauro said of Trump’s proposal. 

“I don’t know when they will move forward with making a substantive proposal,” she added. “We’re waiting for them to join the debate. We’re on the field.

The U.S. remains the only industrialized country without mandated paid family leave. Sunday was the 24th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave for people who work at companies with more than 50 employees.

The push for universal paid leave is growing, with state legislatures and businesses enacting more expansive plans.

Gillibrand said she hopes to gain bipartisan support because the issue affects everyone.

“Despite the fact that we don’t have a Republican yet, I am optimistic that people will be demanding action on this issue, that people will rise up and say we need a national paid leave plan, and really call on their elected leaders to listen to the challenges that they’re facing,” Gillibrand said. “I am hopeful that the new administration will focus on it because they did run on it, they did talk about it, and it should be nonpartisan.”

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