Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — First daughter Ivanka Trump came to Washington — accepting a pioneering role as senior presidential adviser — with an eye on promoting policies to empower women as mothers and in the workplace.
One of her top priorities, she said, was fixing the tax code to better support young families — specifically, securing an increase in the child tax credit aimed at helping parents afford child care while they are on the job.
“American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties. They should be the norm,” Trump said in her address to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
As her father now takes a victory lap after Republicans passed their tax cut bill, Trump is getting a taste of her first legislative victory as well. She spent months lobbying publicly and behind the scenes to have the child tax credit increased as part of the tax reform legislation.
The final bill passed Wednesday delivers on her goal, expanding the current credit from $1,000 to $2,000, with $1,400 of that being refundable for qualifying taxpayers.
“Because of folks like Marco Rubio and Ivanka — when you think about the folks with kids in the household — this plan doubles the child tax credit,” the president said at a White House event Wednesday, flanked by Republican members who helped make the legislation a reality.
Rep. Dave Schweikert, R-Ariz., said Ivanka Trump was an influential player in the tax bill negotiations even on her first foray into legislative affairs.
“She was an advocate who was there to talk about how to bring the family discussion to the table,” Schweikert said. “Sometimes you look up and the line outside the door are corporate lobbyists, and to realize there was someone there also advocating for the American family was a big deal.”
Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and one of his closest confidantes, convened meetings with more than a dozen lawmakers on the child tax credit issue, making multiple trips to Capitol Hill and hosting private dinners at her Washington home, according to a White House official familiar with Trump’s work behind the scenes.
“Ivanka worked hand in hand with the entire team to help ensure the expansion of the child tax credit and the inclusion of other measures to accomplish this goal,” the official said.
When President Trump left for a marathon trip to Asia in the midst of tax negotiations on Capitol Hill, he asked his daughter to stay behind in Washington to continue to focus on sealing the deal, the White House said.
While some Republicans on Capitol Hill have privately questioned her influence, a number of top GOP senators said she was a key voice.
“Ivanka is a passionate advocate for working families and working mothers across the United States. I have truly enjoyed our discussions,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said of Ivanka Trump during a joint appearance in Maine at a tax bill event last month.
Rubio, who has a history of tangling with the Trumps, has said expansion of the child tax credit would not have been possible without the efforts of the president’s daughter.
“If this was not a priority of the White House, I doubt we would have the possibilities now of getting it done,” Rubio said in October when the measure was being negotiated into the Senate bill. “She wanted to help working families, and what she searched for was a legislative vehicle to do that.”
A White House aide said the first daughter was also in close contact with Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Still, the terms of the child tax credit in the final bill fell short of her and Rubio’s ideal goal.
Ivanka Trump had indicated as recently as Monday the significance of “increasing the refundability to $2,000 a child” for the child tax credit in an interview with Fox News. It was a target also championed by Rubio, who at one point threatened to withdraw support from the GOP tax bill altogether when the credit did not reach what he viewed as a sufficient refundability threshold to help families.
Rubio ultimately got on board with the legislation following some wrangling that raised the refundable level of the child tax credit to $1,400.
“That’s called negotiation,” Schweikert, who also favors an expanded child tax credit, said of the final number.
A spokesman for Ivanka Trump declined to comment on the record for this article. An official familiar with her thinking told ABC News she considers the final child tax credit provision in the GOP bill a success.
Paid family leave
Ivanka Trump heads into 2018 with another key piece of her agenda in her sights: a federal paid family leave policy to mandate paid time off for parents following the birth of a child.
The issue is one that the White House has characterized as long-term effort and one that will require separate legislation — apart from tax reform — to accomplish. It has not been publicly discussed by top administration officials as a priority for early 2018. Welfare reform and a sweeping infrastructure bill top the agenda.
“Providing a national guaranteed paid-leave program — with a reasonable time limit and benefit cap — isn’t an entitlement. It’s an investment in America’s working families,” Ivanka Trump wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this summer.
“It’s a necessary floor from which private-sector companies and state governments can build,” she added.
For the foreseeable future, that issue is likely to remain a work in progress.
While White House officials have said the president’s daughter remains committed to this issue, there is no public progress on the issue to date.
“Ivanka will continue to serve the administration by focusing on the education and economic empowerment of women and their families, as well as job creation and economic growth through workforce development, skills training and entrepreneurship,” a White House official said.
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.