Some House Republicans have a proposal that could provide a free market system for families to save money to take time off from work following the birth of a child.
Republicans have been trying to come up with a solution to help families take time with their newborn children without taking an economic toll on the family as a whole. Because not all employers offer paid family leave, new parents are often put in the position where they have to choose between getting a paycheck and spending time with their child during their first weeks of life.
The Freedom for Families Act would make it easier for families to prepare for the birth of their child by allowing them to set up a health savings account (HSA) where they could set aside money, tax-free, to prepare for the time they will spend away from work when the child is born.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) told The Hill:
“Families already use health savings accounts to save for healthcare expenses. There is no reason why families should not have the freedom to access those funds to pay expenses during family leave for a child’s birth, adoption, or a family illness. This proposal provides financial security for families during family leave without new taxes or new federal burdens on employers.”
This proposal differs from some left-wing policies that force employees or businesses to pay a payroll tax that is distributed through the state’s disability funds, as they have in states like California and New Jersey.
This also differs from two other paid family leave proposals that would allow new parents to dip into Social Security to fund their family leave.
One policy being led by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) would require that parents delay their retirement two months for every one month of leave they take. Another policy led by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) would allow parents to choose between delaying their retirement or taking a lesser Social Security check for a longer period of time.
Biggs’ proposal has support from 12 other House Republicans who have signed on as co-sponsors, including Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). It remains unclear who will sponsor in the Senate or if any Democrats would support the proposal.