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Universal paid family, medical leave, guaranteed child care, permanently expanded Child Tax Credit proposed by Rep. Richard Neal in Building an Economy for Families Act

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Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts on Tuesday proposed sweeping economic overhauls that would provide Americans universal paid family and medical leave, guaranteed child care access and permanent expansions of tax credit boosts that Democrats approved in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in an announcement Tuesday that the proposal, dubbed the Building an Economy for Families Act, would “reshape the American economy.”

In addition to providing universal paid family and medical leave to all U.S. workers, the package would make permanent the $3,000-plus Child Tax Credit as well as the Child and Dependent Care Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.

The bill also calls for a $15 billion investment in infrastructure for child care facilities; establishes a new refundable tax credit for child care providers to raise wages of essential child care workers; and creates a Child Care Information Network, giving parents and caregivers a centralized location to find updated information about open child care slots in their communities.

“Our economy is premised on the idea that some workers are worthy of ‘perks’, like paid leave or affordable child care that works for their schedules, while the majority are forced to fend for themselves,” Neal said in a statement. “For our economy to fully recover from this pandemic, we must finally acknowledge that workers have families, and caregiving responsibilities are real. Through sensible, but bold investments, we can put workers’ minds at ease and ready our country to come roaring back. All while lifting millions out of poverty by permanently extending the hugely popular expansions the Ways and Means Committee made to key tax credits in the American Rescue Plan.”

As the package is still in the draft stages, the Ways and Means Committee does not yet have a cost estimate. Previous similar paid leave proposals have cost approximately $60 billion annually, a committee spokesperson noted.

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