President Joe Biden; Sen. Joe Manchin
Nina Riggio/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Biden acknowledged that he may fail to renew the child tax credit in his big bill.
It amounts to a tacit admission that resistance from Manchin may force Democrats to eject the program.
It’s unlikely that Democrats could strike a deal to renew the program with Republicans without major changes.
President Joe Biden conceded on Wednesday that the expanded child tax credit may not survive the negotiations around his $2 trillion Build Back Better bill.
“There’s two really big components that I feel strongly about that I’m not sure I can get in the package,” Biden said at a news conference on Wednesday. “One is the childcare tax credit and the other is help for the cost of community colleges.”
He added both are “massive things” that he’s campaigned on and would attempt to get them in the event both are dropped.
Biden’s comments amount to a remarkable admission that he may fail to renew a program forming the center of the party’s anti-poverty agenda. The child tax credit was expanded for a year under the stimulus law, which widened its reach to families who don’t have to pay taxes for the first time and boosted its amount to $3,000 per kid and $3,600 for each child age 5 and under.
Congress allowed it to expire last year, though Democrats want to revive it for a year as part of their Build Back Better plan. The package has stalled out for now due to opposition from a key holdout within their ranks: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Without his support, Senate Democrats can’t muscle it through over unified GOP resistance in the 50-50 Senate and turn it into law.
Manchin has pushed attaching a work requirement on the child tax credit, a step that experts say would significantly dent its effectiveness on cutting child poverty and shut out many of the poorest families from the program. The program has slashed child poverty up to now by roughly 30%, according to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy.
Republicans are largely lined up against the child allowance, arguing that giving families checks with no strings attached discourages people from working. That hasn’t shown up in studies gauging the program’s effects so far.
Manchin, however, poses a formidable hurdle for Democrats because his views on the benefit are an outlier in the Democratic caucus. Congressional Democrats are mostly behind renewing the program as-is.
The conservative West Virginia Democrat slammed the brakes on the bill a month ago. But White House officials are starting to signal they will re-engage with Manchin to try and get his critical vote.
“No one has come to me on that,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill before entering a room where Senate Republicans were having dinner.
Other Democrats are making clear they will continue pressing to keep the expanded program within the legislation.
“President Biden rightly celebrated the reduction in child poverty over the past year as the ‘biggest drop ever in American history,'” Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado said in a statement to Insider. “It’s clear that the expanded Child Tax Credit is the most significant policy for families and kids to come out of Washington in generations, and I’m fighting to extend it.”
Economy, Politics, Joe Biden, Joe Manchin, Congress, Republicans, Democrats, White House, Child tax credit, Direct payment, Stimulus
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