DECEMBER 17, 2022
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Economic Security Project–
A new proposal to expand COVID-era child tax credits could provide parents with up to $3,600 per year to help support their families.
Assuming it makes it into the final package.
In a Thursday press conference, members of the House Democratic caucus announced proposed language for a year-end spending package that includes an extension of the expanded child tax credit that was included in the 2021 American Rescue Plan.
The new proposal, if enacted, proposes increasing the $2,000 maximum benefit included in the current credit to as much as $3,600 per year for children under 6 years of age, closely in line with the credit Congress allowed to expire last December that, according to estimates from Columbia University, lifted approximately one-sixth of all previously poor children above the poverty line.
“We spent a lot of time working on federal programs, looking at what they are and what their consequences are,” the House Appropriations Committee’s Democratic chairwoman, Rosa DeLauro, said in a press conference announcing the proposal Thursday. “I don’t believe we’ve seen another federal program that has met its goal and purpose in such a short period of time. It has made the difference we thought it would make when it was introduced.”
To DeLauro and millions of Americans, the expanded tax credit was the difference of whether someone “could pay their light bill that month, fill their gas tanks, pay for childcare,” resulting in double-digit percentages of reductions in poverty across numerous ethnic groups.
Other analyses by Columbia University found the overall benefit of the program to be $8 for every $1 in tax credits expending—a public spending bill their research claimed was well worth the cost.
However, the tax credit has remained in limbo, with money—and persistent levels of inflation—putting a damper on Democrats’ hopes for passage in the Senate. A proposed five-year extension of the credit closely resembling DeMauro’s version of the plan failed inclusion in the $740 million Inflation Reduction Act earlier this year over concerns the size of the package would actually work to exacerbate inflation, rather than fight it.
And though some, like Republican Senator Mitt Romney, had worked to reintroduce the credit into ensuing spending packages, those efforts have failed to gain the support of critical figures like West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who has opposed expanding the credit in the past.
Time for Democrats is likely running short. While they will continue to boast a majority in the upper chamber of Congress in January, Republicans will soon be in control of the House, creating a stalemate between the two chambers.
Earlier this month, however, the White House appeared willing to negotiate on the inclusion of a work requirement into the package, a long-desired provision from on-the-fence Republicans that also represents a political third rail for progressive members of the Democratic caucus, who see the provision as exclusionary for some of the nation’s most vulnerable families.
“Something insane would have to happen for there to be no work requirement,” one person involved in the talks told Politico earlier this month.