Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Romney’s revised Family Security Act is back and looking for bipartisan support

A screencap of Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney speaking at a conservative family policy event held by the American Enterprise Institute, July 28, 2022.
American Enterprise Institute
A screencap of Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney speaking at a conservative family policy event held by the American Enterprise Institute, July 28, 2022.

A bill backed by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney seeks to reform how America takes on child poverty. Now, the Republican hopes to drum up bipartisan support in Congress.

The Family Security Act 2.0 would provide between $250 and $350 a month to parents of kids under 18, and payments would start mid-pregnancy.

Romney calls the bill “pro-family, pro-life and pro-marriage,” and it is the second version of the legislation after it was first proposed in 2021. He said the payments would decrease economic burdens on young parents and incentivize marriage by keeping the income threshold for benefits the same for single parents and couples. A family would need to make $10,000 per year to qualify for the maximum payments.

“I don’t think the federal government’s policy should be to try and create incentives to have more children than they want,” the senator said at a family policy event held by the center-right American Enterprise Institute. “But instead should find a way to bridge the gap between what people would like to have for their family and what they’re able to afford.”

Laura Schnurr, a high school science teacher in West Valley and mother of a two-year-old boy, said an extra few hundred dollars a month would go a long way for her and her husband.

“Even though we both work full time and we both have, I think, pretty standard paying jobs, I don’t know how we can afford childcare in the future,” she said. “I think it’s the difference between having us both work and then being able to afford childcare.”

Critics of the bill say including the income requirements could exclude the poorest families from any benefits. The bill also requires both children and parents to have Social Security numbers, something Schnurr said could create a barrier for some of the children she teaches who are undocumented.

“I just know, at least for the students that I work with, it would make a bigger difference in their lives than it would with my life. And they wouldn’t qualify for it,” she said. “I think that’s where I have a problem with it.”

Romney said the program would be fully paid for by reforming existing programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit and eliminating others, including some state and local tax deductions. That, he said, could be a hard sell for Democrats in Congress.

“There are some things in it I know the Democrats will find unacceptable,” he said. “We’ll negotiate it and see if we can find some common ground.”

State Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Pleasant Grove, is a father of five. He thinks this is a good bill, as long as the final version doesn’t include an overall increase in spending.

“If you’re taking other entitlements and you are able to focus them in a better way, I think most people would support it,” he said. “If you’re talking about increasing taxes and then providing a new entitlement, it probably doesn’t get as much support.”

Brammer said Romney’s office has been in contact with state legislative leaders about supporting the bill.

Corrected: August 2, 2022 at 8:19 AM MDT
An earlier version of this story misidentified state Rep. Brady Brammer.
Sean is KUER’s politics reporter.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.