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Democratic Party leaders have announced plans to introduce legislation on Monday that would provide millions of American families with $3,000 per child as part of a sweeping congressional relief package estimated to cost $1.9 trillion.
Rep Richard Neal (D—MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was expected to introduce the bill on Monday amid growing bipartisan calls for child benefits to play a key role in the government’s latest relief measures.
The proposal, which has support from the White House and senior Democrats, was obtained by the Washington Post on Sunday. Americans earning up to $75,000 per year would reportedly receive $3,600 per child under the age of six over the course of 12 months, with payments arriving in monthly instalments, and $3,000 per child between the ages of six and 17.
The payments would also apply to couples who file jointly and earn up to $150,000 per year, the Post reported, with payments diminishing for Americans who earn above those set rates.
President Joe Biden has included the child benefits plan in his proposal to Congress, a component that would lift a majority of the nation’s impoverished children out of poverty, according to research conducted by Columbia university. The plan was projected to cost as much as $120 billion per year, according to the Post.
Republicans have called for similar legislation, with Senator Mitt Romney (R—UT) proposing a plan that would also provide families with up to $3,000 per child. However, the senator’s plan called for cuts to current welfare programmes and food stamps, while Mr Neal’s plan does not. Some analysts have said Mr Romney’s plan would mostly cut redundant tax credits, and still reflects a generous proposal for Americans in need.
However, some Republicans have denounced proposals to provide American families with child benefits amid the pandemic, including Senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio, who said their colleague’s plan would undermine “the responsibility of parents to work to provide for their families” while describing the bill as “welfare assistance.”
The Democratic proposal seeks to increase funding for the Internal Revenue Service after it was slashed under the previous administration, while maintaining current welfare programmes and resources for low-income Americans. An online portal would be created under the proposal for families to access and check their eligibility and status for payments.
In a statement to the newspaper, the congressman said: “The pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating.”
“This money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table,” he added. “This is how the tax code is supposed to work for those who need it most.”
Senate Democrats voted to advance the $1.9 trillion legislation through budget reconciliation after Vice President Kamala Harris cast a tie-breaking vote last week, paving the way for Congress to approve the relief package without any Republican votes. The president has met with Republicans in recent weeks and fielded opportunities to negotiate the package, while warning he would not support a bill that failed to adequately address the crisis.
“I’ve met with Republicans — they’re some really fine people, wanting to get something done," he said during remarks at the White House on Friday. "But they're just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go."
“If I have to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation or compromising on a bill that's up to the crisis, that's an easy choice," he said. "I'm going to help the American people who are hurting now."