5 Senate Democrats urge Biden to renew monthly checks to parents as the program is in danger of getting dropped from his social spending bill

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Biden
President Joe Biden leaves a meeting with the Senate Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • A group of Senate Democrats want Biden to keep the expanded child tax credit in Build Back Better.

  • The senators warned of a spike in child poverty if the program isn't renewed in the near future.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin has pummeled the program and listed objections with it.

A faction of Senate Democrats are urging President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in a new letter on Wednesday to keep the expanded child tax credit in the $2 trillion social and climate bill that's stalled out in the Senate. They warned of "dire" consequences for millions of kids that could slip back into poverty without the federal aid.

The letter was composed by Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

The group laid out some of the potential effects of failing to renew the program for families who had come to rely on the federal aid to make ends meet.

"The consequences of failing to extend the CTC expansion are dire, particularly as families face another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic," the senators wrote. "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 percent to at least 17 percent."

It comes as the program is in jeopardy of falling out of the bill due to lingering objections from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a conservative Democrat. He's dug in on his demand to impose a work requirement on the child tax credit, a move that would shut out millions of the poorest families from qualifying for the program. Manchin is also skeptical of monthly check programs, arguing it could dissuade parents from working.

The party faces an enormous challenge in the coming weeks to redesign the House-approved bill and address Manchin's litany of concerns with it, also including its impact on inflation and the national debt. Biden conceded last week that he may fail at securing a renewal of the child tax credit program.

The child tax credit was expanded for only a year under the stimulus law and it expired at the end of 2021. The program's reach had been widened to families who don't typically file taxes and its cash sum was beefed up to $3,000 per kid and $3,600 for each child age 5 and under. It amounted to a near-universal child benefit.

The effects of the program were immediately apparent. The first round of beefed-up payments helped cut hunger for two million children, many of them Black and Latino.

Research from the Center on Poverty and Social Policy indicates that child poverty has dropped by 30% as a result of the expanded child tax credit. Then a new study published Monday found that mothers benefiting from a steady flow of cash aid with no-strings-attached could improve the cognitive development of their newborns.

Biden's attempt to negotiate a broader compromise with Manchin fell apart in a spectacular fashion and the West Virginia senator came out against the social spending bill in December.

There's mounting anxiety among Democrats that the program may be a casualty of future negotiations meant to restructure the bill and get Manchin's pivotal vote. Without him, the package can't pass over united GOP opposition in the 50-50 Senate.

But some Democrats say they will continue fighting to keep the initiative, even faced with the obstacles thrown up by Manchin. "I've spent a lot of time trying to come up with ideas and approaches on the child tax credit that will get us to 50 votes, and I continue to do that," Wyden told Insider last week.

A copy of the letter was shared with Insider and can be read in full below:

Read the original article on Business Insider

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