Congress Fails to Extend Child Tax Credit; 30M Families Won't See Checks
Children draw on top of a prop ''canceled check'' at a rally on Dec. 13, 2021, in front of the U.S. Capitol to urge passage of the "Build Back Better" legislation to extend the expanded child tax credit. The credit, which has not been extended, expires Jan. 15. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
By Nicole Wells | Friday, 14 January 2022 06:43 PM
For the first time in months, there will be no child tax payments for millions of families this weekend after Congress failed to pass an extension of the expanded credit, according to The Hill.
More than 30 million families that had been receiving the monthly payments since July won't see another round on Saturday, as lawmakers try to revive talks to renew the expansion.
As part of a broad coronavirus relief package passed under President Joe Biden, the child tax credit was temporarily expanded in early 2021.
Democrats removed work requirements, raised the maximum credit amount and allowed those eligible to access half of the credit amount through monthly payments under the expansion.
Touting the expanded credit as a significant contributor to reducing child poverty, many Democratic lawmakers and advocates have called for it to be made permanent.
''You're seeing folks spending it on bills, food, school supplies, some for savings, and some for paying off debt, and I think this sort of speaks to the real value of this kind of economic relief, especially in the middle of a pandemic,'' Ahmad Ali, press secretary for progressive pollster Data for Progress, told The Hill.
''It's about making things a little bit easier to raise a family to stay afloat in the middle of all this.''
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., expressed hope earlier this month that the social and climate spending bill known as the "Build Back Better" Act, which the extension is part of, would eventually be brought to the floor.
Using a process known as budget reconciliation, Democrats are trying to pass the bill in the Senate with a simple majority. They need all of their party's senators to support the plan to pass it, plus the votes of the two independent senators who routinely caucus with them.
A key holdout in those efforts, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has expressed concerns about the expanded credit, in addition to the current form of the overall package, and has cited rising inflation as one of his reasons.
''I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,'' Manchin told ''Fox News Sunday'' in December. ''I just can't. I tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there."
Though most Republicans are not on board with the expanded child tax credit Biden signed off on last year, some have indicated that a bipartisan agreement on a path forward for the tax credit could be reached. The benefit they have in mind, however, would probably look very different from the expansion Democrats are backing, they have said.
''Unfortunately, that went to very high-income people,'' Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, previously told The Hill. ''It was unlinked to work, and I would prefer we went back to the original formulation.''
Experts say returning to previous versions of the credit — which was not fully refundable and included work requirements — would hurt the most vulnerable.
''It's about cutting the deep poverty rate, and those are the folks who, because they don't have any earnings, or have very limited earnings, basically did not benefit much at all from the child tax credit before it became fully refundable,'' researcher Stephen Nuñez, who heads guaranteed income policy research for the Jain Family Institute, told The Hill.