As the United States remains the only developed country in the world without a national paid parental leave program, a bipartisan duo is looking to make that a thing of the past. Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona say their new proposal would change existing tax code to give new parents across the country access to more money to help relieve the burden of time away from the office.
With the Cassidy-Sinema plan, new parents would be allowed to take $5,000 advance on the child tax credit, reducing the $2,000 annual benefit to $1,500 for ten years after the birth or adoption of a child. It's money that can go a long way for a new family.
"If they want to use it to buy diapers they can. If they want to use it to pay for someone to care for their child, if they have to return to work, they can," Cassidy explained to CBS News' Nancy Cordes.
Fewer than 1 in 5 American workers get paid leave through their employers. Nearly 90 percent have access to some unpaid leave, but millions still have have no leave opportunity at all.
"What Senator Cassidy and I were trying to do here is to provide something that helps families during those first twelve months of life in a way that doesn't increase taxes, doesn't increase the deficit or the debt and doesn't place burden on employers or the government," said Sinema.
Cassidy noted that their plan offers the flexibility and opportunities that some employer-based leave programs lack.
"Some mothers, some fathers would rather not stay at home, let's just acknowledge. What we're trying to do is empower families to make the best decision for the family," he said.
While the plan is a first step in addressing the nationwide deficit in leave opportunities, interest groups say the bill doesn't go gar enough in providing actual time off from work, or helping those who are sick or caring for a loved one. But both Cassidy and Sinema feel that only a bipartisan action like theirs has a real chance of becoming law of the land.