WASHINGTON, D.C. – The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on Legislative Proposals for Paid Family and Medical Leave.
Before the start of today’s hearing, Rep. Brady, Rep. Jackie Walorski, the top Republican on the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee, Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), the top Republican on the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee, and Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), the top Republican on the Social Security Subcommittee, sent a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA). CLICK HERE to read the full letter.
CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Neal, for calling this hearing today.
“We have a strong economy thanks to the economic and regulatory reforms put forward by Republicans and this administration, including a long-awaited tax reform.
“But as American families get off the sidelines and back to work, lawmakers have an opportunity to make it easier for them to balance the competing demands of work and family through an effective paid family leave policy. If we do it right, we can allow moms and dads to pursue their careers while building strong and thriving families.
“Paid family leave is an issue that the President, Republicans, and Democrats alike all agree is crucial. We’ve succeeded in providing greater opportunities for all Americans, and now we can provide greater support for their families as parents rejoin the workforce.
“Thousands of families welcome a new child into their home each day. Other families take on the important work of taking care of an aging relative.
“Every family’s situation is unique. The Democrats want to discuss one Democrat proposal today. Republicans have many proposals on paid family leave. We have a proven track record of supporting America’s working families.
“Republicans support expanding access to paid family and medical leave – and we should embrace proven policies that give workers in the 21st century flexibility at their jobs, not a smaller paycheck for life.
“In 2017, we doubled the child tax credit in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In 2018 alone, 39 million families benefitted from the credit receiving an average of $2,200 per family.
“We also created the first ever national policy on paid family and medical leave by creating the Family and Medical Leave Tax Credit. This policy incentivizes more job creators to offer workers up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
“Last year, we successfully fought to extend that credit for an additional year.
“For the first time, as part of the bipartisan SECURE Act, Republicans were able to include in the final law a New Baby Savings provision. This will allow millions of parents to borrow from their savings plan to pay for expenses, including leave from work, for new babies and adoptions.
“And finally, it would be foolish for us not to recognize the gains families have achieved in the Trump economy. Our jobs market is the envy of the world. Wages are growing, particularly for women. And businesses of all sizes are offering more generous benefit packages to attract and retain workers – including with programs like paid family leave.
“These accomplishments are important parts of the spectrum of solutions needed to support America’s families in raising the next generation.
“The worst thing we could do as policy makers is to reverse these historic economic gains workers are experiencing through massive tax hikes.
“And the leading Democrat proposal for paid leave, the FAMILY Act, is just another outrageous tax hike that American workers can’t afford.
“Democrats claim the FAMILY Act will be fully paid for by a .4 percent payroll tax increase, equivalent to just ‘the cost of a cup of coffee per week.’
“But the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation proves that wrong. They estimate the true cost of the FAMILY Act will require a substantial payroll tax increase, anywhere between ‘2.7 and 3.1 percent.’
“That could cost an average worker making $50,000 well over $1,500 a year in new taxes, whether they use the program or not.
“Over a career that’s more than $60,000, which could be spent on diapers, groceries, or to pay for college.
“Americans deserve a paid family leave plan that helps families and small businesses, not a one-size-fits-all Washington mandate.
“Which is why Ways and Means Republicans are working on a plan that will: Increase access to paid leave; build on what is already working; and ensure families can choose what works for them.
“We believe we need to evaluate the incentives we have in place today to encourage expansion of employer-provided paid leave, making permanent the Employer-Provided Paid Family and Medical Leave tax credit.
“Lawmakers should also continue to empower our job creators so they can tailor paid leave plans to fit their workers’ needs, not Washington’s.
“We also know many small and mid-sized businesses simply can’t afford to offer formal paid leave benefits. For these small businesses, increasing access to private insurance options or making it easier to pool together could help defray costs.
“Low-wage workers are also at a disadvantage and the least likely to have access to paid leave through an employer. Just as they are benefiting the most from the surge in wages in this new economy, they may have to take on debt or putting off bills to cover lost wages after the birth of a new baby.
“Federal efforts should be focused on low-income families, particularly families in at-risk communities where paid leave can contribute to better health for new mothers and their babies.
“As I close, I need to raise one last issue.
“The minority has very few rights in the House. Later this week, the full House will vote to repeal a previously passed Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
“But Speaker Pelosi will use a procedure that blocks one of the few rights granted the minority – the Motion to Recommit. Silencing the minority on one of the most critical issues we in Congress can address – the process of going to war – is just wrong and I need to raise my strong objections.
“Removing minority rights in the House could have serious, long term implications for the collegiality and our ability to work together for the American people.
“Once again, I want to thank Chairman Neal for calling today’s hearing.
“I look forward to hearing from our witnesses how we can continue to make paid family and medical leave a reality for even more Americans.