The expanded child tax credit was implemented thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021. The new credit provided monthly payments for most American parents with more paid out at tax time.
The President and Democrats in Congress sought to maintain the credit for another year, and the Build Back Better package that passed the House last year would have extended it through 2022. But that package failed to pass the Senate, meaning that 2022 began with no credit in place. And Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Society found that 3.7 million more children were living in poverty in January, the first month without the expanded credit in place.
Can the credit survive in any form? This week, The Guardian looked at that question, calling the efforts an “uphill battle.”
“The policy appears to have no path forward in the evenly divided Senate, underscoring Democrats’ challenges in trying to advance Biden’s economic agenda,” the analysis said. “Some Democrats fear that failing to extend the expanded credit will further damage the party’s prospects in the midterm elections, making it more difficult for candidates to make a case for re-election to voters.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) announced his opposition to the Build Back Better package, leaving it without the fifty votes that it needs to get through the Senate. Manchin has also been a vocal skeptic of the child tax credit, reportedly telling colleagues that some of his constituents had been spending money from the credit on drugs.
The story said that the Democrats are trying to pass a version of Build Back Better, probably under a different name, featuring at least some of the proposals from that package. The hope is to earn Manchin’s approval.
Biden called for an extension of the child tax credit in his State of the Union address, although he only mentioned it briefly in a part of the speech in which he also mentioned other initiatives, such as voting rights and a minimum wage raise, that have stalled out and are unlikely to pass in the current Congress.
“It was something we should be doing again, but I’m having trouble getting it passed again,” Biden said this week at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference.
Another possible bipartisan compromise that’s been mentioned is one between the 2021 version of the child tax credit and Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) child allowance proposal. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a child tax credit architect, said earlier this month that talks are ongoing, although it’s unclear how much momentum there is for those talks, and whether such a deal would have the votes needed to pass both houses of Congress.
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.