As if Democrats didn’t have enough problems advancing a stalled social welfare spending package, party lawmakers are now battling over efforts to reduce the length of a child tax credit they hope to include in the legislation.
Progressive Democrats said Tuesday they will not accept a behind-the-scenes proposal to slash the length of an extended child care tax credit to just one year.
The proposal surfaced in talks at the White House between the Biden administration and Democratic negotiators who are looking for ways to cut the cost of the bill to around $2 trillion.
Leading House progressives firmly rejected the idea, arguing the tax credit has pulled thousands of children out of poverty and must remain in place. They want to make the tax credit permanent.
“A one-year extension is a mistake," said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat. “It’s very harmful to the country, and to children and to families.”
Democrats and Biden passed a yearlong expansion of the Child Tax Credit in March 2021 as part of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package. The credit provides families with up to $3,600 annually for each child, depending on their age.
The money has been doled out in monthly payments of $250 to $300 dollars.
Democrats are now eager to make the tax credit permanent, arguing it is reducing poverty on a large scale. They want to leave it in place without a work requirement and with an income cap that would include individuals and households earning six figures.
But the tax credit is on the chopping block, or at least part of it, as Democrats look for ways to lower their massive social welfare spending bill from an initial cost of $3.5 trillion to a much lower $2 trillion.
And they may have to cut more.
Reports indicate Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat pushing to lower the cost of the bill, has informed the White House he is willing to accept a spending bill costing a maximum of $1.75 trillion.
But Democrats don’t want to cut any of the programs and subsidies they have been striving to push into law for many years, if not decades.
Party lawmakers and activist groups staged a rally outside the Capitol on Wednesday with the Washington Interfaith Staff Community to make their case, arguing it is a moral imperative to get the spending package across the finish line while Democrats control both Congress and the White House.
“Please, please, let us not squander this precious moment,” DeLauro said at the rally. “It will not come around again.”
Democrats are also pushing back against efforts to cut other parts of the bill that would provide billions of dollars to expand Medicaid to every state and provide additional Obamacare subsidies to help people buy health insurance.
“I’m proud to stand here with my colleagues, to demand that that is not just an imperative, it's a moral imperative,” Rep. Terry Sewell, an Alabama Democrat, said, speaking at the rally alongside a constituent who is unable to pay for insurance. “We want to make sure that these are permanent so that people … don't have to struggle trying to figure out how they pay their medical expenses."
The interfaith group staging the rally, which aligns with Democrats, embarked on a 12-hour prayer vigil beginning at 7 a.m. Wednesday, aimed at convincing lawmakers to pass the spending bill without harsh cuts.
Differences remain significant, however, and despite the urging of Democratic leaders to produce a framework by the end of the week, by late Wednesday lawmakers had not demonstrated any tangible progress toward an agreement on what to cut from the bill.
In addition to the child tax credits and healthcare funding, Democrats have yet to figure out how to curb the cost of a plan to provide paid family and medical leave and have not settled on a compromise with Manchin over green energy policies he opposes.
Manchin wants to cap the child tax credit to earners making less than $60,000 and is demanding it maintain a work requirement.
“We are not there,” House Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, said. “We are in the middle of negotiations.”
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio