Bernie Sanders calls for child tax credit extension
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent progressive from Vermont, pushed for the inclusion of a child tax credit extension in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and said Saturday that American families needed more urgent help than the big package would provide.
In March 2021, Democrats passed the US bailout package (ARP) as part of the budget reconciliation process, meaning it could be approved by a party vote in an evenly divided Senate. This legislation increased child tax credit payments to $3,600 for eligible children under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. Additionally, the ARP revamped the way Americans received credit. Instead of receiving a lump sum after filing their taxes, millions of Americans received half of their estimated credit in monthly installments of $300 for each child under 6 and $250 for all other eligible children. .
The popular child tax credit plan, which many compared to the stimulus checks sent out by the federal government at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, expired late last year. Although Democrats hoped to renew the plan through President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, that bill fell through. Instead, Democrats now plan to pass the IRA, and Sanders hoped to change that legislation to include an expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
“I will be introducing an amendment to extend the $300 per month child tax credit for the next 5 years paid by restoring the top corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%,” the progressive said. Vermont in Senate remarks Saturday. .
Early Sunday morning, as senators continued to vote on amendments to the big package, Sanders’ efforts were squarely defeated. The vote for the amendment to include the child tax credit was defeated 97 to 1, meaning the vast majority of Democrats rejected a plan they once touted to drastically reduce child poverty .
“When it comes to our children, we have the highest rate of child poverty of almost any major nation in the world. This bill, as currently written, does nothing to address that,” said Sanders about the IRA in his Saturday night remarks, urging other lawmakers to support his amendment.
Notably, Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, had urged other party members to vote “no” on the amendment. Although Bennet was a key proponent of the extended parent benefit, he argued that adding the provision would kill the IRA.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, has previously opposed expanding the child tax credit without significant changes. Since the Democrats need all 50 members of their Senate caucus to vote to approve the final IRA bill, even one opposing Democratic senator is enough to kill the bill.
Newsweek contacted Sanders press representatives for comment.
Stimulus checks, or direct payments, were a popular policy during the pandemic. At the start of the new coronavirus shutdowns in March 2020, Congress came together in a bipartisan fashion to pass a massive relief package that included stimulus checks of up to $1,200 for most Americans. Then in December 2020, another bipartisan package passed through Congress with additional checks for $600. In the ARP, which no Republican supported, Democrats included another round of $1,400 stimulus checks alongside child tax credit payments.
A Change.org petition calling for stimulus checks of $2,000 per month to be sent to every American for the duration of the pandemic has drawn substantial support online. The petition has garnered more than 3 million signatures, urging Congress and the White House to take action.
Although the federal government currently seems unlikely to send additional stimulus checks or expand the short-term child tax credit, some states have taken their own initiative to provide relief to residents. At least eight different states plan to send direct payments to help struggling individuals and families. Payments range from a few hundred dollars in direct relief to large checks for each dependent child and additional tax refunds on top of what families would normally receive.