U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a paid parental leave plan on Tuesday morning they say is budget neutral and flexible for parents who choose to utilize it.

Their legislation, the CRADLE Act, would allow parents to receive one, two, or three months of paid leave by giving them the option to postpone activating their Social Security benefits. The plan provides every new mom and dad the flexibility to stay home with their newborns during the critical first months after birth, without creating another massive mandated government program or adding to our ever-growing deficit.

“It’s past time we modernize our family leave policies to reflect the evolving needs of today’s workforce and to reduce the barriers that pose challenges for parents balancing family and work. Millions of working moms and dads in Iowa, and across the country, face huge hurdles in taking time off to spend with their newborns. As a mother, I understand how important it is for children to bond with their parents in the first precious few weeks after birth,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “Our proposal is a path forward for a budget neutral paid leave option that gives parents greater flexibility without imposing a new government entitlement or mandate.”

“Families are the bedrock of our society. If young people can’t afford to marry and start a family then the American dream literally has no future,” Senator Mike Lee said. “We need to make sure our existing social insurance programs are doing all they can to work for working families. The CRADLE Act will give working families the flexibility they need to make sure Social Security is working for them.”

Background:

The Child Rearing and Development Leave Empowerment (CRADLE) Act would allow both natural and adoptive parents to receive one, two, or three months of paid leave benefits by giving them the option to delay activating their Social Security benefits for two, four, or six months. Expectant parents would simply fill out a form to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) of their intention to take paid leave before an expected birth or adoption. Then, after the birth or adoption, the SSA would begin payments two weeks after parents applied for their baby’s social security number.

To be eligible, parents must meet certain work requirements, and benefit levels would be determined by using the same formula used for determining Social Security Disability benefits. The formula is progressive, meaning that monthly benefits would be more generous to those least likely to have the luxury of an employer-sponsored benefit.

Click HERE for a full summary of the bill.

Click HERE for a one-pager on the bill’s details.

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