The Build Back Better framework, which was the Biden administration’s major proposed spending package last year, collapsed in December after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he opposed it, leaving the package without enough votes in the evenly divided Senate.
Since then, talks have aimed to revive parts of the bill in a smaller form, without the expanded child tax credit, which expired at the end of 2021.
The latest report indicates that the child tax credit is still not part of the talks. The credit, instituted through the American Rescue Plan Act that passed in the spring of 2021, had mandated direct payments to most American families in the last six months of last year. However, after months of talks, Congress did not extend the credit, meaning the credit returned to its original form starting in 2022.
According to NBC News, Senator Manchin “is said to be sounding out options for a fix that might fit into a larger bill” on the issue of the looming premium hike for the Affordable Care Act.
The package being discussed, per the report, would focus on green energy, taxes, and prescription drug prices. If the bill passed, it would work under reconciliation rules that would not require Republican votes.
NBC previously reported in late June that “major progress” had been made in the talks.
Why is there no child tax credit in the talks?
Manchin made clear last December that he opposed the extension of credit, largely due to inflation and deficit worries.
“My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face,” Manchin said last December. “I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight.”
A report shortly thereafter noted that Manchin told colleagues that he feared that child tax credit recipients would spend the money from the credit on drugs.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate minority leader, said last month that the GOP would not support the bipartisan United States Innovation and Competition Act if the Democrats continue to push the reconciliation package.
“Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill,” McConnell tweeted, referring to the acronym for the United States Innovation and Competition Act.
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.