Sen. Joe Manchin suggests requiring people to work so they can get Biden's monthly child tax credit

Joe Manchin on CNN
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  • West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin suggested establishing a work requirement for Biden's child tax credit.

  • "Don't you think, if we're going to help the children, that the people should make some effort?" he said on CNN.

  • The child tax credit presently provides up to $300 a month for each child aged 5 or younger, or $3,600 annually.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday floated the possibility of establishing a work requirement for people to receive the child tax credit, a program that was expanded earlier this year by President Joe Biden and Democrats in the stimulus law.

"I support child tax credits. I sure am trying to help the children," Manchin, an influential moderate Democrat, said Sunday, though he was hesitant about whether the credit should become permanent when asked Sunday by CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union."

"You want to help the children and the parents that are basically providing for those children," Manchin said. "There's no work requirements whatsoever. There's no education requirements whatsoever for better skill sets. Don't you think, if we're going to help the children, that the people should make some effort?"

Manchin also doubled down in his opposition to a $3.5 trillion price tag for a social spending package that Democrats want to pass this month, and insisted the amount must be cut by as much as half in order to get his vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, rejected a potential $1.5 trillion plan in a separate CNN interview.

In addition to a renewal of the child allowance, the plan is poised to include measures like universal Pre-K, tuition-free community college, paid family and medical leave along with scores of other Democratic priorities. Democrats are maneuvering through the reconciliation process which requires only a simple majority vote, allowing them to skirt GOP opposition.

Manchin's comments underscore the haggling that Democrats still have to do amongst themselves as they endeavor to pass a large economic plan to strengthen the nation's social safety net on a party-line basis. But Democrats have a razor-thin margin for error given they can only afford three defections in the House and none in the Senate.

Currently, the child tax credit provides up to $300 a month for each child aged 5 or younger, or $3,600 annually. For children between ages 6 and 17, families can receive up to $250 each month, or $3,000 each year.

The Democratic stimulus law in March, meant to help shore up the economy from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic, turned the credit into a one-year cash benefit issued in monthly checks to the vast majority of families. Individuals who earn $75,000 or less are eligible for full payments. Couples earning a combined $150,000 or less also qualify for the total amount.

Early research indicates the first month of payments kept three million children out of poverty and helped feed two million kids in July. Almost 70% of families either spent the money or used it to pay down debt. Some experts say conditioning the federal assistance to work could jeopardize the Democratic goal of cutting child poverty.

"We have real world evidence from the past two months that hunger among children has fallen, it's a clear result of the credit being paid out on an advance basis to low-income families," Seth Hanlon, a tax expert at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, told Insider.

Food insecurity dropped among West Virginians families as well, per an analysis from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

Hanlon also noted existing research that indicates programs like child tax credit improve long-term health, educational and financial outcomes. "There's such overwhelming reason to not base the aid to children on their parents' earnings," he said.

As Insider previously reported, House Democrats and Senate Democrats could clash over the expansion of the tax credit. Democrats in the House are pushing forward on a plan to renew the revamped child tax credit through 2025, while Senate Democrats are eyeing a shorter extension of the credit.

Read the original article on Business Insider