President Joe Biden said last week he’s “not sure” an expanded child tax credit will make a comeback as lawmakers debate a new version of his big social-spending package. Now, five Democratic senators are urging him to push for the payments anew.
“Without the expanded credit, nearly 10 million children will be thrown back into or deeper into poverty this winter, increasing the monthly child poverty rate from roughly 12% to at least 17%,” wrote Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Ron Wyden of Oregon in a letter on Wednesday to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“After historic progress,” the senators wrote, “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. Raising taxes on working families is the last thing we should do during a pandemic.”
As MarketWatch has reported, the monthly payments of up to $300 per child began on July 15 and ended with the payout on Dec. 15. At a news conference last week marking his first year in office, Biden said, “there’s two really big components that I feel strongly about that I’m not sure I can get in the package. One is the child-care tax credit. The other is help for the cost of community colleges.”
Biden’s so-called Build Back Better package has stalled amid opposition to elements of it from Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. Manchin has suggested the payments would be used to buy drugs and has pushed for including a work requirement. In their letter, the senators cite Census Bureau data showing that “91% of low-income families spent their payments on basic necessities like groceries, utilities, housing, and school-related costs.”
Asked about the letter on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki highlighted Biden’s support for the credit, but said there need to be 50 votes for such proposals in the evenly divided Senate.
“It’s going to be up to [senators] to determine what that looks like,” she said.
The president made a new push for Build Back Better on Wednesday, hosting at least 10 private-sector executives who were expected to “highlight what they see as the key benefits of BBB for the American economy and American businesses,” according to a White House official. Those slated to attend included General Motors GM, +0.46% CEO Mary Barra, Microsoft MSFT, +2.15% President Brad Smith and Salesforce.com CRM, -2.68% CEO Marc Benioff.
MarketWatch’s Victor Reklaitis contributed to this story.