The IRS paid most American parents as much as $300 per child from July through December last year. Democrats intended to continue the benefits as part of the Build Back Better Act, but the legislation stalled after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he wouldn’t vote for it.
Democrats are now picking up the broken pieces of the legislation and trying to figure out what can pass as part of a new, smaller bill. The senators said in their letter that Biden should bring back the child tax credit as the “centerpiece of the legislation.”
“Nearly 9 in 10 American children benefitted from these payments, which enabled their families to afford rent, put food on the table, and pay for child care so their parents and caregivers could stay in the workforce,” Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Cory Booker (N.J.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.) said in the letter.
The letter is a mild rebuke to Biden for candidly saying during a press conference last week that he thought the child tax credit and free community college would have to be left out of the next Build Back Better bill.
“They are massive things that I’ve run on, I care a great deal about, and I’m going to keep coming back at,” Biden said.
Several of the senators who signed the letter have previously told HuffPost they’re talking among themselves about what kind of changes they might be willing to make in order to get Manchin on board with the child tax credit, which went out to 36 million families last year, including ones with no income and ones with six-figure incomes. Manchin has suggested the unemployed and the wealthy should be excluded; the letter doesn’t suggest any possible changes.
The fact that the senators seem to be venting frustration to Biden suggests they’re not on the verge of any breakthroughs on a compromise child tax credit proposal.
If Democrats can’t resurrect the monthly payments, the senators warned Biden, he’ll be at risk of violating his pledge not to increase taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000, since the payments are technically advance tax credits. Not to mention, millions of children will wind up in poverty.
“After historic progress, it is unacceptable to return to a status quo in which children are America’s poorest residents and child poverty costs our nation more than $1 trillion per year,” the letter said.