New parents could use part of their Social Security for parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child under legislation two senators, including Sen. Mitt Romney, reintroduced Wednesday.

The bill, known as the New Parents Act, creates a voluntary option for paid parental leave by allowing parents to use a portion of their Social Security. It also provides parents the flexibility to use their benefits in a way that works best for their family by allowing them to combine their leaves or transfer them to one parent.

Many parents, especially those with low incomes, would be able to finance three months of leave or longer, according to Romney R-Utah, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“American families are facing greater financial strain, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and marriage and birth rates are at an all-time low,” Romney said.

“In Utah, and throughout the United States, a majority of working parents do not get paid when they take time off from work after the birth or adoption of a child, which can mean depleted savings, credit card debt, and student loan defaults.”

Romney said the bill lets parents take time off from work with pay during the first weeks of their children’s lives, without increasing the national debt, raising taxes or creating a new entitlement program.

“Our economic policies need to reflect our values, and right now far too many young, working families are falling behind,” Rubio said. “We can support working and stay-at-home moms and dads alike without raising taxes or expanding federal bureaucracy.”

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Earlier this year, Romney unveiled a proposal to send families $350 a month for each young child and $250 for each school-age child on an ongoing basis. Billed as deficit-neutral, the Family Security Act would be paid for by killing or streamlining existing programs and ditching federal deductions for state and local taxes. Among other changes, it would eliminate Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the head of household income tax filing status.

Rubio opposes that plan, and teamed up with Utah’s senior senator, Republican Mike Lee, on legislation to expand the child tax credit.

Lee and Rubio said in February that they do not support what has been called a “child allowance,” paid out as a universal basic income to all parents. 

“That is not tax relief for working parents; it is welfare assistance,” the senators said. “An essential part of being pro-family is being pro-work. Congress should expand the child tax credit without undercutting the responsibility of parents to work to provide for their families.”

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