Democrats are raising alarm about passing Biden’s big bill before the year ends or the child tax credit expires.
“It would be a tragedy if the child tax credit lapses,” Sen. Michael Bennet told Insider.
But Joe Manchin is pouring cold water on approving the legislation by Christmas.
Congressional Democrats are raising significant alarm over the pending expiration of the bulked-up child tax credit at the end of the month, warning of “disaster” if there’s an abrupt cutoff in payments in January 2022.
Their hope to swiftly pass President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social and climate spending package is crashing into resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. All 50 Senate Democrats must join together and approve the legislation to clear the upper chamber over unanimous GOP opposition.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has doubled down on passing the sprawling legislation by Christmas. But Manchin hasn’t thrown his support behind it, all but dashing Democratic hopes for speedy action.
Democrats are scrambling to keep the monthly checks to flowing to families uninterrupted. “I’m deeply concerned. It would be a tragedy if the child tax credit lapses,” Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, an architect of the expansion, told Insider on Wednesday.
He cited recent data showing families are spending the federal cash on rent, groceries, and daycare. “We should make sure that we don’t cancel this at the beginning of the new year, that will be a disaster,” Bennet said.
The urgency is being felt among senior House Democrats as well. “House Democrats will not allow this tax credit to expire and I don’t believe the Senate will either,” Rep. Hakeem Jefferies, the third-ranking Democrat, told reporters.
The current bill provides up to $300 a month per child age 5 and under, or $3,600 annually. For children between ages 6 and 17, families can receive $250 each month, or $3,000 yearly. And it would lock in the ability for the vast majority of American families to receive the federal cash every month, regardless of whether they file taxes.
Still, Manchin doesn’t appear to be in any rush to give the legislation a thumbs-up. He said he’s concerned about how the package could worsen inflation and contribute to rising prices for groceries and gas. On Tuesday, he said at a Wall Street Journal event that the threat of the “unknown we’re facing today” is much bigger than “this aspirational bill we’re looking at.”
He doubled down on Wednesday, telling reporters that the government had already approved $5.4 trillion in new federal spending since the pandemic started and pouring cold water on the concept of more spending.
The Internal Revenue Service is scheduled to send the last round of payments to 35 million families on December 15. But for the agency to distribute payments next month without a hitch, some experts say Congress must approve the legislation by year’s end.
“I just think if they pass it by the end of the year, then the payments will go out,” Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Insider. “That’s most likely.”
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