NYT: The political debate at the heart of the Biden-Manchin impasse

Congress expanded the scope of the child tax credit until the end of the year under the $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief act, which authorized Congress with only the Democratic votes, including that of Mr. Manchin. Democrats hope to extend it and ultimately make it permanent.

The credit, first established in the late 1990s, has been increased to cover more families and restructured to allow direct monthly payments this year up to $ 250 per child, or $ 300 for a child under. 6 years. It has also become fully refundable, which means families do not have to provide proof of income or federal income tax liability to receive payment.

Of the 74 million children in the country, nearly nine in ten are qualified, and the extended eligibility of families at the bottom of the income scale is significantly child poverty reduction.

In October Census office In a report that followed how about 300,000 beneficiaries spent their first three payments this summer, researchers found that about half of families spent some of the money on food. Other families said they used the money to pay rent, mortgages, utilities, child care and school expenses.

Depending on the version of the domestic policy bill passed by the House, the program would be extended for one year. Without an extension of the expanded program, the amount of credit will decrease dramatically, especially for low-income families. And it will come down to being paid in an annual lump sum tied to filing a tax return rather than half distributed monthly.

As Democrats welcomed payments to their constituents’ bank accounts this year, Manchin objected to the cost of the one-year extension, arguing it was misleading given there were ambitions to make it permanent, a step that would cost about an additional $ 1.5 trillion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

At one point, Manchin also privately voiced concerns to his colleagues that the payments could help fuel opioid use, comments that were first reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by someone familiar with the discussion. Other Democrats and proponents of the proposal dismissed this concern and argued that the measures Mr Manchin suggested, such as imposing additional work requirements and limits on who can receive the money, would make more difficult for families most in need to receive the full benefit. .

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