The senior Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) provided the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on Paid Family and Medical Leave: Helping Workers and Employers Succeed.
Before the start of the hearing, Texas Congessman, along with Reps. Adrian Smith (R-NE), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and Tom Reed (R-NY), the top Republicans on the Subcommittees for Select Revenue Measures, Worker and Family Support, and Social Security respectively, sent the following letter to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA).
CLICK HERE to read the letter.
WATCH THE HEARING IN ITS ENTIRETY:
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Neal, for convening this hearing on paid family and medical leave to help workers and businesses succeed.
“Republicans are the party of life.
“We understand that babies and the loving parents raising them need all the resources available as they raise their family: from conception to the birthing room, through growing years to their aging years.
“Republicans support expanding access to paid family and medical leave, and hope to work with Democrats and President Trump to find the right way to help families balance work and family.
“We believe expanding access to paid family leave reduces preventable deaths of new mothers and babies, helps with family bonding, increases employee morale, and improves productivity.
“Which is why Republicans have taken important steps to help our local businesses offer paid family leave programs to their workers.
“As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Republicans created the first ever national tax policy on paid family and medical leave.
“The Paid Family and Medical Leave Tax Credit reimburses businesses up to 25 percent of the cost of providing paid leave to their workers. In this first-ever pilot program, businesses can get help for offering up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
“But we know every family is different.
“Not only do millions of families welcome a new child each year, there are other families who do the important work of taking care of an aging relative.
“That’s why under Republican leadership last Congress, we passed the RAISE Family Caregiving Act – a new law that directs the Department of Health and Human Services to create a national strategy to develop better support for family caregivers to keep their loved ones at home rather than in a nursing home.
“And passed into law the VA MISSION Act, allowing more of our veterans – those heroes who served our country – to be taken care of by their families at home rather than within the massive VA system.
“Republicans are proud to champion these vital initiatives – to set into motion the engine that is making paid leave a reality for more families today.
“We know every dollar counts for families.
“That’s why in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we doubled the Child Tax Credit to its largest amount in history, increased its refundability, and expanded it to 8 million more families so more working-class households could access this important credit to help with the expenses of raising children.
“We know good jobs with growing wages are vital to families.
“By rejecting the slow-growth and stagnant paychecks of the past, Republicans and President Trump have created an economy growing 50 percent faster than Obama projections.
“We have the lowest unemployment in nearly half a century and the fastest growing paychecks in more than a decade – rising even further among blue-collar and low-income workers than their supervisors.
“Because America today has a million more job openings than workers to fill them, the competition among businesses to hire workers is fierce.
“This is encouraging even more businesses to provide expanded benefits for their workers like paid family and medical leave.
“That’s good news.
“Today, half of all U.S. workers have access to paid maternity and medical leave and it’s growing – without a costly federal mandate.
“As we work to expand access to paid medical leave, there are real concerns that a new one-size-fits-all Washington mandate limits family flexibility, could be extremely costly, and will lead to higher taxes on workers, reduced job benefits, or harmful cuts in education, Social Security, or Medicare to pay for the new mandate.
“The true cost of a family leave mandate is up to $1 trillion in the first decade, according to the American Action Forum. And it could go higher in the future.
“This could force an average worker making $50,000 a year to pay more than $58,000 in higher payroll taxes and lower wages over their work career whether they ever use the program or not.
“Families in the 21st century want flexibility at work, not a smaller paycheck for life.
“$58,000 is a lot of money – that’s one full year of retirement.
“That $58,000 could be better spent by families on what they need, like diapers, child care, or education.
“Rather than an expensive Washington mandate that means smaller take-home pay, let’s join together to give local businesses the flexibility to craft plans that are best for their workers instead of taking money away from working moms and dads.
“As Republicans we urge: making permanent the Paid Family and Medical Leave Tax Credit which expires at the end of this year – no member of Congress should support taking away this valuable tax incentive if we’re serious about expanding access to paid leave; making it easier for small businesses to join together, to make it more affordable to offer paid family leave to their workers; and continuing to empower our job creators so they can tailor paid leave plans to fit their workers’ needs. Families and business are different, and benefits help workers best when Washington doesn’t interfere.
“Today the question isn’t whether to expand paid family leave, but how best to achieve it.
“We look forward to the hearing today.”