With the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced the framework for the “Providing for Life Act” which he billed as “comprehensive support for pregnant and new moms, as well as young children.”
Rubio applauded the decision on Friday.
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to allow states to regulate abortion was right constitutionally and morally,” Rubio said. “For nearly half a century, a nation founded on God-given rights denied those rights to its most vulnerable citizens and more than 63 million Americans never got the chance to pursue their dreams.
“But we must not only continue to take steps to protect the unborn, we must also do more to support mothers and their babies. I will soon introduce a bill to ensure we do everything we can to give every child the opportunity to fully access the promise of America,” he added.
“For years, I have emphasized that Congress can and must do more for unborn children and their mothers,” Rubio said. “We need to adopt pro-life policies that support families, rather than destroy them. This comprehensive legislation would make a real difference to American parents and children in need.
Back in May, in an op-ed at the Washington Times, Rubio looked ahead to what Congress can do after the Supreme Court weighed in.
“At the very least, we need to dramatically expand the child tax credit for working families and allow new parents to pull some of their Social Security savings forward to finance time off of work. That alone will not be enough, though. Expectant mothers — especially those who are surprised by, and unprepared for, pregnancy — require additional support in the form of mentorship, counseling, medical care and more,” Rubio noted.
On Friday, Rubio’s office unveiled the framework for the “Providing for Life Act” which is below.
Enable paid parental leave. The legislation includes Rubio’s New Parents Act, a bill that would allow new and newly-adoptive parents to pull forward up to three months of their Social Security benefits to finance paid parental leave. Stay-at-home parents with a sufficient earnings history would also be able to take the funding option and receive resources.
Expand the CTC. Rubio and Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, led the charge to double the Child Tax Credit (CTC) in 2017. In this legislation, Rubio again calls for a significant expansion of the CTC to allow parents to keep more of their hard-earned money to cover the costs of raising children. Under the expanded CTC:
• Parents would receive a credit of up to $3,500 per child, and $4,500 per child for children under the age of 6;
• The expanded CTC would maintain current phase-out thresholds of $200,000 for single filers and $400,000 for married filers filing jointly;
Parents could claim the credit for their unborn children;
• The refundable portion of the credit would phase in at a rate of 15.3%, beginning with the first dollar of income earned, to reflect combined employee and employer payroll tax liability; and
The SALT deduction would be eliminated to help pay for the expanded credit.
• Expand Child Support Enforcement requirements. Child Support Enforcement (CSE) programs provide critical support for low-income moms. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that CSE lifted nearly 1 million people out of poverty in 2012 alone. However, in recent years the share of custodial parents receiving CSE monies has declined. Individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid are already required to cooperate with the state in establishing child support orders, but the TANF caseload has declined considerably in the past two decades, while the SNAP rolls have increased. Rubio’s legislation would amend federal law to also require SNAP recipients to cooperate with states in establishing child support orders. Custodial parents would be allowed to decline such cooperation if doing so would be in the best interest of the child or in the presence of other reasonable concerns. The bill also includes funding and incentives for additional workforce training for non-custodial parents with child support obligations, as well as provisions to incentivize states to require the biological father of a child to pay at least half of the mother’s reasonable medical costs incurred during pregnancy, including health insurance premium and medical costs.
Provide additional funding, with reforms, to the WIC program. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides grants to states for supplemental foods, social service referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant and postpartum women, as well as infants and children up to the age of five. In FY21, 6.2 million women and children participated in the program. Rubio’s legislation includes a number of reforms to the WIC program, including:
• Extending the postpartum benefit eligibility period from one to two years;
• Extending expanded cash-value voucher benefits, adjusted for inflation;
• Requiring the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to update the supplemental foods review every five years, rather than the current 10 years; and
• Requiring that state and local agencies provide to individuals applying for the program information about establishing CSE orders and referral to such programs or agencies authorized to determine eligibility for CSE.
• Expand tax relief for adoptive parents. Rubio’s legislation would make the adoption tax credit fully refundable.
• Expand access to social services by lowering barriers to faith-based organizations’ participation. The legislation includes language to expand participation of faith-based organizations in federal social services by ensuring equal treatment in federal grant-making. The language would codify equal treatment rules for faith-based organizations across federal social service programs, clarifying religious hiring exemptions and prohibiting rules or practices that unfairly disadvantage faith-based organizations or limit religious exercise. The bill also includes provisions to increase awareness of federal grant opportunities and provide technical support to small community- and faith-based providers.
• Establish a grant program to fund integrated mentoring services for low-income mothers. Research finds that the most effective interventions at improving upward mobility emphasize case management and mentoring, and building community connections is a vital component of family flourishing. Rubio’s legislation includes a new competitive grant program to fund innovative community-based mentoring initiatives. Eligible providers include local governments, nonprofits and churches, and community health and crisis pregnancy centers. Grant applicants would provide a mentoring program for low-income mothers in their community, including emotional and social support, as well as coaching on nutrition, financial literacy, connections to community resources, and navigating available government benefits. Applicants would be required to show how the program would utilize community volunteer mentors and partner with existing social service and public health resources, as well as home-visiting and other case management services being provided locally, to avoid duplication.
• Create a clearinghouse of resources for pregnant women: Though there are many federal, state, and local resources available for pregnant mothers, these resources are often difficult to find or not spoken about. As a result, expectant mothers may choose to abort their babies out of fear of being left behind or not being able to support their child. This proposal would establish a federal clearinghouse where pregnant women have easy access to a comprehensive portal of resources available to them during and after pregnancy. The portal would include resources such as federal and state assistance programs, health insurance information, federally-funded local health clinics, legal protections available to expecting mothers, a helpline, and adoption resources.
• Expanding support for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers: Rubio’s bill would define crisis pregnancy centers as community-driven, non-profit organizations that provide tools and services for pregnant women to help them maintain a healthy pregnancy until birth. These centers do not provide, refer, counsel in favor of, support, or advocate abortion services. The proposal would provide direct federal funding for these centers by reallocating federal funds from organizations that perform or refer women for abortions.
• Enforce rights for pregnant college students: Rubio’s legislation includes his Pregnant Students Rights Act, which would protect the rights of pregnant students and their babies by strengthening existing requirements for higher education institutions to publicly disclose the resources and rights available for pregnant and parenting students, including information about how to file a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education if their school does not provide these accommodations.
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