By Brandon Moseley

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) announced on Fox News that he was going to be a “No” vote on President Joseph R. Biden’s massive multi-trillion dollar social spending bill. Given the 50-50 division in the Senate and the lack of Republican support, the President’s Build Back Better agenda appears to be dead in the Senate.

While Republicans are cheering the demise of Build Back Better, thousands of Alabama families could have less disposable income due to the expected lapse of the expanded child tax credit portion of the legislation.

“Build Back Broke was nothing more than a leftwing social spending package Biden claimed will cost nothing, not add to the national debt, and decrease inflation,” Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL04) said. “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says that simply is not the case. The package creates over 150 new government programs, would cost almost $5 trillion and would supercharge already out of control inflation.   I applaud Senator Manchin for standing his ground against this radical legislation.”

Manchin has said the Child Tax Credit program should include a work requirement and exclude more families with higher incomes. The majority of Democrats have rejected that and want the program to continue for all families, regardless of income status.

“I believe government should be your best partner, but it shouldn’t be your provider,” Manchin said. “We have a moral obligation to provide for those who have incapacities, such as physical or mental. But everyone else should be able to help and chip in, so that’s my mindset.” 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) believes people have come to depend on the expanded Child Tax Credit and stopping that program would be detrimental.

“Families received their sixth child tax credit payment last week, and they have come to depend on these payments to cover the essentials like rent, groceries, heat, and clothing for their children,” Wyden said. “Food insecurity among families dropped by about 25 percent since these payments began. Child poverty has been cut nearly in half. This program is Social Security for our children, and Democrats must keep it going over the long-term.”

Failure to enact an extension of the expanded credit means that households that are currently getting monthly advance payments of the credit from the IRS will not receive a payment on Jan. 15.

It is still possible that an extension of the monthly payments will be passed as a separate stand-alone bill, but that does not appear to be on the horizon and time is running out to do that.  The Senate has left Washington for its Christmas break.

Congress expanded the child tax credit in the American Rescue Act, which was passed in March following Biden’s inauguration. The expansion increased the maximum credit amount.

As written, the child tax credit is an 'advance' on IRS deductions filed on future income tax. However, for those families with little to no reportable income, the funds obviously can't be withheld from future tax returns.

Many Alabama families have been getting a check from the government every month as a result. That money will stop without congressional action.

Tens of millions of American families received the monthly payments from July through December. Families were eligible for payments of up to $300 per child under age 6 and up to $250 per child ages 6 to 17.

Build Back Better, as it passed the House, had included a one-year extension of the increased credit amount and monthly payments.  It would have permanently made the credit fully available to the lowest-income families.

Republicans are strongly opposed to the expansion and Manchin has expressed his own concerns about it.

The White House is continuing to push for an extension of the child tax credit expansion and is in negotiations with Manchin on trying to resurrect some version of Build Back Better. Inflation, particularly food and fuel prices, has already hurt families. The good news is that unemployment is extremely low and jobs are plentiful so some of the families affected by this do have the ability to get or change jobs in order to raise their household incomes.

All of the child tax credits were paid for through deficit spending. The National Debt is $29.22 trillion. 

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