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Democrats launch dads caucus to focus on family issues, push for paid leave

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(WASHINGTON) — Four House Democrats launched the Congressional Dads Caucus on Thursday, joining together around a legislative agenda that includes expanding parental leave, the child tax credit and other family-first initiatives.

Reps. Jimmy Gomez of California, Andy Kim of New Jersey and Dan Goldman of New York — all fathers — announced the formation of the caucus alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., a member of the Moms in the House.

“The formation of this caucus is rooted in a simple idea that dads need to do our part in advancing policies that will make a difference in the lives of so many working families across the country,” Gomez said.

The group, which is hoping to grow its membership, will work to advance legislation that they say supports working families, like expanding parental leave, the child tax credit and child care.

Efforts to boost paid leave have previously stalled in the Democratic Senate and appear unlikely to advance in the current Republican House.

“In addition to supporting legislation that advance these solutions, the Caucus will host briefings and events designed to educate and inform Members of Congress and the public about the needs of working parents, including a national paid family and medical leave program and affordable childcare,” Gomez’s office said in a news release.

Gomez made waves on social media earlier in the month when he brought his infant son, Hodge, to the Capitol during Kevin McCarthy’s fight for the speakership.

“I realized I wanted to bring him to the [House] floor to have him witness history, but also to recognize that he is what we’re fighting for,” Gomez told ABC News’ Jay O’Brien during the speaker election.

“He represents the millions of kids that don’t have the privilege to be on the floor,” Gomez said then.

The launch of the dads caucus comes as three House Republicans and three Democrats establish a working group on paid family leave, two of its members said during a Washington Post Live event on Wednesday.

But as that bipartisan group prepares to commence meeting in the coming weeks, the dads caucus has launched without Republican members.

“One of the things I didn’t want to do is wait for the bipartisan, bicameral strategy in order to start the dads conference because that’s been tried before,” Gomez said Thursday.

“If there’s a Republican who believes in a national paid family leave or expanding the child tax credit or affordable child care, let’s have this discussion,” he told reporters.

Republicans on board with those policy proposals would be “more than welcome to join,” he added.

However, such an agenda has been a tough pill to swallow for even some Democrats. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, seen as one of the most conservative members of his party, opposed major parts of President Joe Biden’s social spending package known as the Build Back Better plan and paid family leave was ultimately stripped out.

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