- Biden floated a one-year extension of the child tax credit at a White House meeting with Democrats on Tuesday.
- His suggestion is already causing some senior Democrats in the House and Senate to call it a “big mistake.”
- “I’m gonna get longer than that,” Senate Finance Committee chair Ron Wyden told Insider.
President Joe Biden pitched a one-year extension of the bulked-up child tax credit to Democrats on Tuesday, a person familiar with the matter told Insider.
Senior Democrats are disappointed; they expected the program to last much longer.
Biden met with two groups of House and Senate Democrats in an effort to broker a truce between the warring liberal and centrist factions of the party. The feud has grown acrimonious in recent weeks as centrists attempt to slam the brakes on the ambitious size and scope of the party’s $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion social spending plan.
The one-year extension would ensure low-income families who pay little or no taxes get the money as well, the person said. But the short extension runs counter to what many Democrats seek in the social spending plan, and they view it as their best opportunity in a generation to strengthen the safety net for families.
Some Democrats are already slamming the briefer extension.
“Nobody talked about Social Security being extended for one year,” Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, told Insider. “I think that the child tax credit is on its way to setting up a new bond between children and families and the government.”
He went on: “I’m gonna get longer than that.”
A spokesperson for Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado said the senator believes it is “crucial” for low-income families paying no taxes to tap the benefit.
“He’s going to continue pushing forthat and for an extension of the expanded child tax credit for as long as possible,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Insider.
It also prompted fierce criticism from a top House Democrat. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, argued it would be a blunder.
“A one year extension is a very big mistake and a missed opportunity for the country,” she told reporters on Wednesday. “I will continue to press for a more enduring framework for children and families.”
Congressional Democrats are starting to make tough calls on what should be jettisoned from their $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion social spending plan, which faces major cuts to gain support from Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. The pair hold enormous influence in the 50-50 Senate, given Democrats can’t spare any votes in their endeavor to turn Biden’s economic plans into law in the face of united Republican opposition.
Priorities on the chopping block include tuition-free community college, which some Democrats conceded would probably be dropped on Tuesday. Biden also reportedly set $US1.9 ($AU3) trillion as the ceiling for the cost of the social spending bill – sliced nearly in half from the original number.
Some experts are crediting the expanded child tax credit payments with helping cut the number of kids living in poverty already and allowing families to pay the bills and manage everyday expenses like buying groceries. Families with incomes below $US150,000 ($AU199,574) can get up to $US300 ($AU399) in monthly checks depending on their kid’s age.
Yet a small but potent band of centrists argue the aid should be restricted to only the poorest families. Manchin reportedly floated a $US60,000 ($AU79,830) income cap for families to qualify for the child tax credit. That triggered criticism from Democrats earlier this week because it would prompt steep cuts to many kids benefiting from government aid.
House Democrats introduced an extension through 2025 at a cost of $US556 ($AU740) billion. Shortening its extension allows Democrats to cram more social priorities in their social spending plan, and potentially broaden its ability to clear thin majorities in both the House and Senate.
Other Senate Democrats indicated that the child tax credit renewal was still up for grabs in the talks. “It’s all negotiable,” Sen. Jon Tester of Montana told Insider.
“I support making it permanent,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranked Senate Democrat, told Insider on Wednesday.