- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2019

President Trump spotlighted a “historic” deal Thursday that offers paid family leave to federal workers, seizing credit for another item that was on Democrats’ wish list for years.

The government “will now give 12 weeks of paid family leave to all federal employees — something that nobody expected,” Mr. Trump said at a White House summit on child care.

The House on Wednesday approved a defense authorization bill that included the benefit in exchange for Mr. Trump’s push to create a Space Force branch of the military.

Paid family leave is a longtime priority for House majority Democrats, who realized Mr. Trump was eager to secure the Space Force and that Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, had lobbied for generous family leave.

“As the country’s largest employer, the United States government is now leading by example,” Ms. Trump said at Thursday’s summit.

The agreement marked another instance in which Democrats said they extracted a victory from a president whom they are trying to impeach, while Mr. Trump said he is the one delivering wins with broad appeal.

Democrats recently agreed to the president’s rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and members of both parties linked arms to pass Mr. Trump’s bid for criminal justice reform last year.

“With other administrations, it just never worked. We get it done,” Mr. Trump said Thursday. “They may like me, they may not. But we get it done.”

Mr. Trump’s 2020 campaign said Thursday that the president’s effort to make the Republican Party more of a “beer and blue jeans” affair than a “wine and cheese” soiree will broaden his appeal en route to reelection.

“I was not a Republican. Now I’m a Republican. I think the Republican Party is growing now [in a way] that people like me feel comfortable being part of it,” said Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser who is Mr. Trump’s son-in-law.

Mr. Trump managed to rewrite the 25-year-old NAFTA trade deal in a way that brought Democrats on board without losing the support of too many Republicans. Such efforts will make it easier for would-be Democrats or members of labor unions to jump aboard the Trump train in 2020, the campaign said.

At the same time, party officials said, Mr. Trump shored up Republican support by appointing conservative judges, including two Supreme Court justices.

“I think he has actually expanded the party, but he’s retained a lot of the core elements of the party. That’s why so many Republicans support him,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said.

Mr. Trump rebuked Democrats on Thursday for attempts to share his first-term victories. He singled out his push to double the child tax credit as part of the Republicans’ 2017 tax overhaul.

“I noticed every time we do something, the Democrats try and say, ‘We really did it, you know.’ They didn’t do it,” Mr. Trump said. “But we’ll be very nice. We want to be bipartisan.”

Both sides are toasting victory on paid family leave for federal workers.

Rep. David J. Trone, Maryland Democrat, said offering 12 weeks will result in higher retention rates among federal employees and bring civilian employee benefits in line with what military members receive.

“Our federal employees work tirelessly every day to serve our country. It’s about time we give them the benefits they deserve,” Mr. Trone said.

The administration says Mr. Trump’s efforts don’t stop with federal employees.

He has pushed a tax credit for businesses that offer paid leave and increased funding for a grant program that helps low-income Americans access child care.

“With more women working today than ever before, we now have a historic opportunity to enact long-overdue reforms,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s time to pass paid family leave and expand access to quality care.”

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