U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and other Democrats are looking for bipartisan support to make a temporary child tax credit permanent, providing families with up to $300 monthly per child.
But opposition from Republicans could stall those efforts.
The one-year expansion of the child tax credit, which was signed into law by President Biden March 11 as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, will help lift over four million children above the poverty line, including 57,000 in Colorado, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“This is the biggest reduction in childhood poverty in the history of our country, and we need to make it permanent,” said Bennet, who’s credited for pushing the temporary child tax credit into the stimulus package, during a Senate floor speech in March. “My goal is to end childhood poverty in this country.”
Bennet and at least 40 other Senate Democrats have urged Biden to make the expansion permanent.
But the president’s latest proposal doesn’t go that far.
The American Families Plan, which Biden outlined during his first address to a joint session of Congress last month, only calls for an extension of the CTC expansion through 2025.
“I’m very pleased that Joe Biden has included it in his plan, but I think we can do even better by making it permanent,” Bennet said in response to the latest White House proposal during an interview on MSNBC.
The biggest challenge to getting legislation passed that would make the CTC expansion permanent isn’t the administration, however. It’s the opposition from Republicans in the House and Senate.
Many balk at the price tag and at what they characterize as an expansion of the welfare state.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that extending the CTC expansion would mark a return to the failed welfare system of the 1990s.
“The dangers at hand are far from new. As then-Senator Biden put it in 1988, the old American welfare system broke down because ‘it only parceled out welfare checks and (did) nothing to help the poor find productive jobs,'” Lee and Rubio said in a joint statement.
The two Republican senators said they oppose any plans that would turn the CTC into a child allowance. It’s a viewpoint that has been echoed by many on the conservative side.
“Around 90% of the American public believe in compassionate giving and support for those who need help to support themselves or their families. But they also believe that an able-bodied adult who gets cash, food, housing or medical care from the government should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of getting that aid,” said Robert Rector, who is a senior research fellow in domestic policy at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.
Rector further told the Colorado Times Recorder that lawmakers advocating a permanent CTC expansion are failing to highlight that its entire focus is to “ensure that people get an unconditional entitlement to aid without any taking any steps to improve their own self-support.”
Some Republicans have issued proposals to boost the child tax credit beyond the $3,600 figure that was part of Democrat’s COVID relief package.
However, eliminating the work requirement has so far been a non-starter for the vast majority of GOP members.
Only Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has so far issued a plan that would also provide benefits to nonworking families.