Ivanka Trump heads to Berlin for women’s conference
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ivanka Trump’s advocacy for women and girls will take her to a conference in Berlin Tuesday, an attention-getting first international outing aimed at building support for investment in women’s economic empowerment programs.
Back home, the first daughter’s plan to push for policies that benefit working mothers is getting less of the spotlight.
Trump, an unpaid White House adviser, has not yet offered specific legislation or publicly revealed how she plans to move forward with the child care and family leave policies she promoted during her father’s campaign. But a senior administration official says she and others have been working quietly behind the scenes to revise her campaign proposals and build momentum.
The official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal policy talks, stressed that child care is a part of the White House tax policy conversation. The president is set to roll out tax reform priorities Wednesday, but the official declined to discuss those plans in advance of the announcement.
President Donald Trump has noted his support for his daughter’s efforts. In his joint address to Congress, he said he wants to work with lawmakers “to make child care accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents have paid family leave.”
Some advocates said they would like to see a proposal. Patricia Cole, senior director of federal policy for Zero to Three, a nonpartisan organization that focuses on early childhood, said, “We would really welcome a conversation.”
Ivanka Trump, who stepped away from running her fashion brand to take on a White House role, will spend Tuesday in Berlin at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. There she will attend a panel discussion as part of the W20 Summit, a women-focused effort within the Group of 20 countries. She will also take in a technical school, visit the United States embassy and go to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
In advance of the summit, Ivanka Trump co-authored an op-ed in the Financial Times, calling for more global efforts to invest in women’s economic empowerment.
“The evidence is overwhelming that supporting women’s economic participation has enormous dividends for families, communities and whole economies,” Trump wrote with Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank.
Trump has spent the first three months of her father’s presidency talking about women’s empowerment, often at White House forums and roundtables. On Monday, she joined her father for a conversation with astronauts on the International Space Station and touted a bill the president signed that asks the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to encourage girls to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
“Encouraging women and girls to pursue STEM careers is a major priority for this administration,” said Trump.
Her moves toward policy have been far less public. She has met privately with lawmakers, including a sit-down with Republican women in February.
Trump’s challenge is persuading a Republican-led Congress with a plate full of other priorities. Lawmakers are focused on repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law and overhauling the tax code, and less eager to take on a proposal more likely to pique the interest of Democrats.
At Ivanka Trump’s urging, Trump’s campaign proposed six weeks of leave for mothers — although not fathers — with the government paying wages equivalent to unemployment benefits. The proposal also included new income tax deductions for child care expenses and a new rebate or tax credit for low-income families.
But the official said the draft child care plan has shifted away from a tax deduction —which critics say would benefit wealthier families. A plan currently under discussion would expand the child and dependent tax credit, boosting the amount, permitting it to cover up to four children and making it refundable to help low-income families with no tax burden. Higher-income households would not be eligible.
The thinking on leave policies has evolved from maternity leave to a more inclusive family leave, the official said, adding that they are also looking at other funding options beyond the savings in unemployment insurance that were originally targeted.
Ivanka Trump’s prospects have some feeling optimistic.
“I do think they’re going to try and I think they might get something done,” said Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, a nonpartisan advocacy group for young children. She added that “there’s also huge value in people like Ivanka speaking out on the public relations side.”