WASHINGTON (WDTN) – Many say the first few weeks after birth can be the most precious for new parents and their babies, but labor statistics show just a small fraction of U.S. families can afford to take the time off.

Only 17 percent of workers get paid parental leave.

Tuesday, Republican Senators Joni Ernst and Mike Lee introduced a conservative solution to a problem disproportionally impacting working women.

“It’s long overdue that Congress have a conversation on these matters, but get serious,” says Senator Ernst.

Under their plan, eligible workers could tap their social security funds early to help pay for up to 3 months of off time.

Republicans say this isn’t a handout; parents will have to wait that same amount of time to get their social security money back.

“It’s not mandatory and it’s not a tax on individuals,” Sen. Ernst says.

“It’s a trade-off, but a trade-off I think many would be willing to take,” says Senator Mike Lee.

Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown sternly disagrees, arguing the solution would erode an already-unstable social security program.

“It’s a terrible trade-off. It’s a half-hearted attempt to do family and medical leave,” he said. “It’s just bad policy.”

Talks are still in the early stages and lawmakers hope to work together to find a solution both sides can agree on.