‘Considered one of my objectives is to make paid go away everlasting’: Sen. Gillibrand

Much of the focus of the just-passed US $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill was on things like stimulus checks for individuals, aid to states, and unemployment insurance. However, two lesser-known provisions could signal long-term changes in the American Social Security Network if – as the Democrats hope and Republicans promise to oppose – they ultimately become permanent.

The first is a child tax credit, which is currently set to increase family benefits and which, according to an analyst, could “fundamentally change child tax policy”.

The second is a temporary paid vacation scheme that will restore protection to federal employees during the pandemic. Some protective measures were included in the Family Response to the First Coronavirus Act in 2020, including new paid options available to many workers (not just federal workers). These provisions, with which companies with more than 500 employees in particular were exempted, expired in winter.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D., NY) pointed out both efforts, particularly paid vacation.

“One of my goals is to make paid vacation permanent,” she said. “We are still the only developed country in the world with no access to paid vacation, and most workers do not have access.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in the US Capitol in February. (REUTERS / Joshua Roberts / Pool)

“This pandemic wouldn’t be nearly as damaging”

Pro-paid leave activists have praised the bill but said, “Recovery requires longer-term labor policies that we needed but didn’t have.” Statistics show that around 19% of workers in the US have access to paid family leave through their employers, while 40% have access to medical leave through employer-provided short-term disability insurance.

Gillibrand has long promoted legislation called the FAMILY Act, which would create a permanent and nationally paid family and sick leave program for major medical events. She has also pushed ahead with extensive legislation that includes sick days as well as family and sick leave. The hope is to make it consistent for all workers when there is a need to break off work because of medical or family problems – such as caring for a newborn baby.

The story goes on

The New York Senator appeared on Yahoo Finance’s special feature on International Women’s Day. She argued, “If we had paid vacation, this pandemic wouldn’t be nearly as damaging as it is to women in the workplace and parents in the workplace.”

Gillibrand said the child tax credit was “one of the most ambitious investments” in the package; Under this provision, parents could receive a check for $ 300 per child per month (or up to $ 3,000 per child or $ 3,600 for each child under the age of six) for the remainder of the year.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) (R) speaks while Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (3rd R) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill on February 12, 2019 in Washington is listening.  DC.  Gillibrand and DeLauro held a press conference about the

Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) listens as Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) – her lead partner on paid vacation laws – speaks during a news conference in 2019. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Previously, credit was based on taxable income, but the new legislation removes the need for certain income levels. “I think this is a big change in and of itself,” Erica York, an economist with the Tax Foundation, told Yahoo Finance in a separate interview. “It will mean that millions of people who previously did not have access to child tax credits will have access to it.”

A hefty price

The resistance to the permanence of any of the provisions will likely revolve around cost. The Center for a Responsible Federal Budget recently estimated that if some guidelines in the current bill were extended, the $ 1.9 trillion bill would rise to over $ 4 trillion.

A permanent increase in the child tax credit would likely have the highest price. The current bill expects $ 110 billion, but a permanent extension could bring the federal debt to an additional $ 1.1 trillion by 2031.

The bill is slated to become law later this week after the Senate passed an amended version this weekend. The House of Representatives is due to approve the changes on Tuesday before going to President Biden’s desk for signature.

While the bill is slated to pass without the support of a single Republican member of Congress, Gillibrand says, “The bipartisan American people have asked for this relief.”

Ben Werschkul is a Washington, DC-based writer and producer for Yahoo Finance.

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