- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sen. Mike Lee said Tuesday that the institution of the family is paramount in society, calling on conservatives and Republicans in the new Congress for an agenda with an eye on American working families.

“The family is the first and most important institution of our society and it also serves as the foundation of American exceptionalism,” the Utah Republican said. “Regardless of what you think the ideal family structure is, or whether you think there is a single ideal family structure at all, our family is where we learn [the] very first and the very deepest lessons that inform our behavior and shape our personalities for the rest of our lives.”

Mr. Lee, a staunch conservative and frequent ally of Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, was speaking at the Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit.

“If the conservative movement and the new majority in the 114th Congress truly want to be pro-growth and pro-opportunity, our agenda must first and foremost be pro-family in every sense of the word, and not just on some issues, but on all of them,” he said. “Everything we do in Congress ought to be informed by the struggles and opportunities, the challenges and aspirations of today’s working American families.”

He pointed to higher education as an example for an area that could stand to use reforms, saying rising tuition costs stifle the development of bachelor’s degree alternatives and saddle parents and students “and parents who are students” with excessive debt.

Most young adults, he said, had formed families in the same sequence: “First came love, then came marriage, and you know the rest.”

“Today, however, marriage is often a last step — the final step parents take when forming a family, and it’s increasingly a step that’s being foregone altogether,” he said.

Mr. Lee also said that Washington has “singled out” married couples and parents for “unfair burdens” in the tax code.

“We have transportation, labor and housing systems that make it harder for parents to find decent jobs — to get by without two full-time incomes or make it home in time for dinner,” he said.

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