House lawmakers launched the “Congressional Dads Caucus” on Thursday, pledging to advocate for policies that will help working-class families, including paid family leave and expanding the child tax credit.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) — who made headlines earlier this month when he brought his baby, Hodges, upstairs in the House during the presidential race — led a Thursday press conference on Capitol Hill announcing the creation of the caucus.
“The creation of the Dads Caucus sends a powerful message: we want to show not only concern, but also advocacy on issues that affect working parents, and change hearts and minds regarding the role of fathers at home and in Congress,” Gomez said.
He was joined by Reps. Daniel Goldman (DN.Y.) and Andy Kim (DN.J.) — both fathers — in addition to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the founder of the Congressional Mamas’ Caucus . Representatives of advocacy groups were also present at the announcement.
“With this group here today, and with more members to come, we are committed to finding real solutions as we fight for our national paid family and medical leave program, high quality affordable child care and the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which has reduced child poverty in this country by 40 to 60 percent in the nine months of its existence,” Gomez said.
So far, only Democratic lawmakers are members of the Dads Caucus. Gomez, however, said he “hopes” some Republicans will join the group – especially those who agree with their mission.
“If there’s a Republican who believes in national paid family leave or expanding the child tax credit or affordable child care, let’s have those discussions,” he said.
He hasn’t contacted any Republicans “yet,” however, saying the caucus “wanted to start with a core of dads in the Democratic caucus as well as moms in the Democratic caucus.”
“We’re going to invite more Democrats to join us, and then we’re going to reach out, starting with some key committees,” Gomez added.
Democrats pushed for action to extend the enhanced child tax credit during the lame 2022 session, before the party lost control of the House. That effort fell through, however, after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on including the measure in the year-end omnibus package.
The U.S. bailout, which President Biden signed into law in March, expanded the child tax credit, though the largest monthly payments expired at the end of this year after Congress was not told. able to renew the program. According to the US Census Bureau, the increase in payments has lifted 2.1 million children above the poverty line.
Democrats have also pushed repeatedly for paid family leave, though the policy was left out of major pieces of legislation last year — including the Cut Inflation Act passed in the summer of 2022.
Asked about advancing those priorities in the 118th Congress, when Republicans control the House and Democrats lack a filibuster-proof majority, Gomez said the new caucus wants to spur conversations on the issues.
“As long as we can have a discussion about the need and then some strategies to get there, we can go from there,” he said of paid family leave. “I come from a school of thought that we’re not going to wait for bipartisanship to emerge, in order to start advocating on an issue.”
At the press conference, lawmakers cited their personal experiences as fathers when expressing their dedication to the caucus and its mission.
Goldman, a freshman lawmaker from New York, held up a note his 4-year-old wrote to him while he was on the floor for the President’s race earlier this month. His staff took his kids to his office when they started getting “pissed off” during the extended election, the congressman said.
“They’ve started drawing and I want to show you one thing that I’ve kept which is a note from my 4 year old son that says ‘Hi dad I love you I’ll give you hugs and kisses when you ‘ll come home’, from Alessia,” Goldman said, presenting the note.
“I keep this by my desk every day, just as a reminder of what’s really important in life. And we may be trying here to represent our districts, to represent the people of the United States in the best possible way. way possible – including advocating for important legislation like the child tax credit, like universal child care, like paid family leave – but what really keeps us grounded and motivated and focused is our children” , he added.
Kim said he found out he didn’t have paid parental leave while working at the State Department.
“When I found out my wife was pregnant, I went downstairs and spoke to HR and asked them what kind of paid parental leave I had from the government, and I was told you didn’t have nothing, zero, zero days. Even though I served my country in Afghanistan and other places, I had zero days,” he said.
“I felt so disrespected, I just felt like it was something that held parents — moms and dads — that way,” he added.