Liberal groups set up ‘war room’ to push Democrats to extend child tax credit

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Two progressive groups are launching a new initiative this week urging the permanent extension of an enhanced child tax credit program, arguing that Democrats must embrace the measure as Congress debates its future amid ongoing spending negotiations.

The campaign, called Fighting Chance for Families, is a joint effort of the progressive think tanks Data for Progress and Groundwork Collective. Leaders from both groups say they plan to tout polling and studies about the program to advocate for its extension, saying it is both a political and policy winner for Democratic lawmakers and President Joe Biden.

“Democrats need to pursue policies that enact transformative change and are popular with voters, and the Child Tax Credit is exactly that,” Sean McElwee, executive director of Data for Progress, said in a statement. “Fighting Chance for Families will urge lawmakers to seize the opportunities afforded by the current political moment to push for this landmark policy to be made permanent.”

Officials with the initiative described it as a “war room” to promote the child tax credit’s extension.

The enhanced child tax credits are set to begin next month, part of a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief measure Biden signed into law earlier this year. The new benefit establishes that parents receive monthly direct payments for their children instead of receiving an annual lump sum, and it raises the amount each parent will be paid, depending on their age of their children.

Democrats hailed the enhanced benefits as a way to significantly reduce child poverty and a prime example of the party’s commitment to delivering direct, tangible aid to voters.

But the enhanced credits are set to last for only one year. Officials with Fighting Chance for Families say if it expires, Democrats will have made a major mistake.

“If Democrats plan to run and win on being the party of transformative change, they must prove it,” McKenzie Wilson, spokeswoman for Fighting Chance for Families, said in a statement. “Permanently expanding the CTC is an exceptional opportunity to do just that.”

Biden has called for an extension of the enhanced child tax credits as part of his proposed multi-trillion-dollar American Families Act. Congress is considering that measure as part of a broad negotiation over spending plans, including a possible bipartisan agreement to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure.

Most Democrats expect that regardless of a bipartisan deal on infrastructure spending, the party will have to approve of Biden’s Families Act through a budgetary maneuver known as reconciliation. That move would allow the bill to pass through the evenly divided Senate without any Republican support.

Polling from Data for Progress indicates most Americans back the extension: 56% of likely voters, including 37% of Republicans, support doing so, compared to just 36% who don’t.

But the tax credit still remains largely unknown to Americans, according to Data for Progress, with only 16% of voters saying they had heard a lot about it. By comparison, 34% said they had heard some about the tax credit, 33% said they had heard a little about it, and 18% said they had heard nothing about it.

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