A big part of the Biden administration's domestic spending agenda has been a continuation of the expanded child tax credit. That credit, which mandated direct payments to parents each month of the year between July and December, came into being with the American Rescue Plan Act, the bill that passed in March 2021 as a major COVID-era rescue package.
The administration first proposed extending the child tax credit, under something resembling its 2021 form, through 2025, although some Democrats in Congress have proposed making it permanent. Ultimately, the version of the Build Back Better bill that passed the House included a one-year extension of the child tax credit.
And now, it appears that extension may be dead, following the declaration this weekend by a key senator that he opposes the bill.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), is seen as a possible obstacle to the passage of the package. Machin announced in a Fox News interview Sunday that he was opposed to the Build Back Better package. The announcement came after months of negotiations between the White House and Manchin, in order to reach a version of the bill for which Manchin would agree to vote. His rejection leaves virtually no path for the major Biden agenda item to pass Congress unless the White House could persuade a Republican senator or two to support the legislation.
"And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can't. I've tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there,” Manchin said in the interview. “This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do. And the President has worked diligently.”
It already looked unlikely, even if the bill had passed the Senate, for it to be in place in time for the child tax credit payments to continue without disruption in January. But now, those who have counted on those payments will be without them, starting next month.
According to one report, part of Manchin’s motivation for opposing the legislation has to do with the child tax credit itself.
The Huffington Post, citing two sources familiar with the matter, reported that Manchin had told colleagues during recent talks that some parents receiving the credit “would waste monthly child tax credit payments on drugs instead of providing for their children.”
Most of Manchin’s public opposition to the bill dealt with the bill’s cost, its effect on deficits, and a need to concentrate on the pandemic and Omicron variant. The senator, however, has said in the past that he supported a work requirement for the child tax credit.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.