'Strolling Thunder' rally pushing lawmakers to take up family issues

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Precious cargo arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Parents, caretakers and other family issues activists marched with their children in strollers to send a message to Washington.

This “Think Babies” rally -- organized by the group “Zero to Three” -- is calling on lawmakers to boost support for families.

Our Washington Bureau’s Alana Austin reports on this push for more resources.

Hundreds of kids and families were taking over Capitol Hill Tuesday - some say they’re here to be a voice for the voiceless.

“Kids are our future. They’re the next generation and they’re going to continue on all of our legacies," said Cortney Lollar, a Lexington, Kentucky mom.

She came with her nearly two-year-old son to pound the pavement over issues like paid family leave, daycare and early childhood intervention programs.

“I again happen to be in the fortunate position of having stable employment and stable health care and access to good child care but many people in my state don’t have that," said Lollar.

Organizers of this event back Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, which would offer working parents 12 weeks of partial income while they take time off to be with their newborns.

Hannah Wingo of Springfield, Missouri says that would be a game-changer.

“I think what can empower families and help them make the right choices for their kids is to give them options," said Wingo, who says she struggled to transition back into full-time work shortly after having her first son.

The biggest uphill push for parents would likely be paid family leave. The conservative Heritage Foundation says taxpayers should not be footing the bill for that proposal.

“Lawmakers should tread very carefully not to do more harm than good,” said Romina Boccia, Deputy Director for Economic Policy at the Heritage Foundation.

Romina Boccia says Gillibrand’s bill would increase payroll taxes, which Boccia thinks could end up hurting low to middle income earners, and female workers, instead of helping.

“If the federal government provides paid leave for new parents, we will likely see the amount of leave increasing, which will ultimately end up hurting women’s career and wage prospects down the road," said Boccia.

Gillibrand’s bill is unlikely to move forward in the immediate future under a Republican-controlled Congress.

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