The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a $1.7 trillion cumulative spending package that the federal government is expected to fund through next fall. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Friday and sent the bill to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.
The package includes around $40 billion in emergency aid for communities recovering from disasters, financial support for Ukraine and provisions designed to ease retirement.
However, the bill is missing a key element that many had hoped for: an extension of the child tax credit (CTC).
Democrats pushed for the COVID-era CTC expansion, which would earn eligible recipients $3,000 per child over age 6 and $3,600 per child under age 6, and ultimately succeeded.
The original expanded CTC was touted as a major achievement for the Biden administration before being phased out in December 2021 due to opposition from Senate Republicans and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Democratic lawmakers wanted to partially restore the expanded child tax credit to allow more families on the lowest incomes in the United States to qualify, similar to how the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan’s temporary credit expansion worked last year.
According to a recent estimate from the Tax Policy Center, about 19 million children will not receive the current full benefit of $2,000 this year because their parents are underpaid.
The Biden administration has not commented directly on the negotiations taking place in Congress on the CTC in the spending package, but a White House spokesman told Politico earlier this month that the president wanted the tax credit.
“President Biden strongly supports the child tax credit he has signed into law,” a White House spokesman told the outlet while referring to the expanded 2021 CTC program.
Although much of the omnibus package will be used for defense spending, a large amount of money will be allocated to families. The legislation would establish a permanent statewide summer EBT program, allocate billions to childcare, and allocate more funding to improve access to mental health services for children and schools.
Still, some Democratic lawmakers and advocates have expressed frustration at the exclusion of the expanded CTC from the omnibus bill.
“Republican leaders have decided to send a lump of coal to America’s children this year,” Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado said in a statement. “We know that the most significant step Congress can take to help America’s children is to support an expanded child tax credit. When Congress took action in 2021, we cut America’s child poverty in half. We have the data. We know it worked.”
Frank Clemente, the executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, shared the same sentiment as Bennet in a press release Tuesday.
“Republicans put corporations before kids at Christmas,” Clemente said. “But public demand for tax justice has grown so much that such bills can no longer fly through Congress without serious opposition or even investigation.”
news week has reached out to the White House for comment.
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