Family policy: what are House Republicans proposing? | Opinion

From COVID-19 shutdowns to woke absurdities in classrooms, Republicans in states like Florida and Virginia have found electoral success by addressing parents’ concerns and directly tackling the cultural and economic threats undermining their families.

Now, Republicans in Washington, DC, are beginning to lean into that same framework — and reaping the rewards.

The Republican Study Committee, one of the most influential groups of conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives, released a comprehensive program on family policy last Thursday. This is a welcome collection of bills and ideas that demonstrate the Republican Party’s newfound resolve to advance policies that will strengthen family life, from unborn children to parents’ rights to raise their children as they hear it.

Republicans have always known how to resist the latest progressive foray into the culture wars and talk about the importance of family. But Republicans have not always been so good at advancing a constructive political agenda that would help working-class families cope with the burdens of daily life.

At a time when marriage and fertility rates are at record highs, and too many parents feel overwhelmed by the financial challenges of supporting their families and protecting their children from Big Tech, it is more It’s time for the Republican Party to marry its pro-family discourse to a stronger political agenda. Fortunately, the agenda produced by the Republican Study Committee under the leadership of Chairman Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., takes a much-needed next step that recognizes that the forces undermining American family life are at both cultural and economic.

First and foremost, the committee recognizes the need to give parents more tools to protect their children online. Changing the laws that govern how children access the internet is essential – whether it’s requiring minors to have parental consent to open a new social media account or giving parents more to see what their children are watching and posting. Republicans should stand up for these ideas and defend parental rights in the classroom, in health care decisions, and in the public square.

But in addition to some of the culture war issues on which Republicans have been successful, the Republican Review Committee’s agenda includes a host of promising ideas that would strengthen parents’ ability to provide for their families and balance the demands of work and family life. Giving workers more flexibility to accrue paid time off, affirming the importance of parental choice in childcare programs, and expanding 529 savings plans to cover homeschooling expenses are all solutions. practices to the economic needs of families.

No conservative approach to family policy would be complete without tackling the marriage penalties that plague our tax code and our safety net programs, making it more economically beneficial for low-income couples to cohabit rather than marry. The new policy agenda proposes reviving marriage as an economically beneficial institution for low-income and working-class couples by removing these penalties, as well as making it easier for individuals to enter the middle class by providing a broader range of workforce training options as opposed to the college-for-all mentality that has dominated for too long.

There are also other bread-and-butter conservative policy ideas: strengthening school choice, protecting faith-based social service providers from discrimination, protecting girls’ sports, and cracking down on child pornography. Notably, in a post-Dobbs America, the study committee devotes a section to increased efforts to support mothers facing unexpected pregnancies, including making fathers responsible for child support, providing more funding for safety net services and strengthening laws against pregnancy discrimination.

As always with such a large list, further discussion is needed; some ideas don’t go far enough, and some need to be fleshed out a bit more. The agenda positively mentions Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s Family Safety Act, but does not receive full approval. Romney’s plan would be a dramatic step toward scrapping marriage penalties from the tax code, providing real help to ordinary families struggling to cover the costs of raising children and supporting expectant mothers, all in a way budget neutral. A conservative pro-family agenda needs something like the Family Safety Act at its heart.

But for a party that too often settles for relying on vague platitudes rather than offering concrete party platforms, the Republican Review Committee’s family policy platform is a welcome reminder that there are still lawmakers. interested in doing the vital work of governing. Not all of the more than 80 recommendations will be up for a vote, but taken together they offer a compelling view of what a parent-friendly Republican Party should prioritize if it takes over the House next month. We hope Republicans will have the opportunity to prove that their commitment to family is more than a rhetoric by enacting much of this agenda in the next Congress.

Patrick T. Brown (@PTBwrites) is a Fellow of the Center for Ethics and Public Policy. Brad Wilcox is a Future of Freedom fellow at the Institute for Family Studies and a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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