Since passing as part of 2021’s coronavirus relief package, the monthly Child Tax Credits (CTC) have helped families across the country pay for things like food and childcare this year. But they were initially authorized just for one year – and it’s coming down the wire on the question of whether families will get the same program in 2022 and whether or not those payments would be able to begin in January.
Right now, the extension of the credit is tied to the current spending bill moving through Congress, known as the “Build Back Better” bill. As part of the text passed by the House of Representatives, the bill would re-up the CTC for another year. But that bill hasn’t yet passed the Senate – and even it does pass, it could be delayed enough that families won’t get a check by January 15.
Representative Suzan DelBene of Washington, chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition comprising almost 100 members, released a statement this week calling on the Senate to pass the bill and re-up the Child Tax Credit, reports Insider. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, a more left-wing group of nearly 100 House Democrats, have also urged speedy passage of the bill in the Senate.
But since no Republicans are expected to support the bill – which, in addition to the Child Tax Credit expansion, includes support for childcare and pre-K, renewable energy, and other measures – the Democrats must wrangle every single one of their 50 Senators to pass the bill. And at least two Democratic Senators aren’t necessarily keen on passing it before the year ends.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia isn’t sure the bill will pass before Christmas, reports CNN – adding that if the vote came up now, Manchin is reportedly unsure of how he would vote. In addition, Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has not necessarily said she will vote for the bill either, CNN notes.
If payments don’t go out in January, it could be a hit to many families. The New York Times reports that many families’ “excess savings” accrued since the start of the pandemic – in large part made through stimulus payments and the expanded Child Tax Credit – are starting to drop, and could be depleted by the first part of 2022.
The paper notes that while many people have more in their checking accounts now than in 2019, inflation is starting to hurt people’s budgets. And while the country isn’t quite in the depths of pandemic uncertainty, the economy remains… weird.
The last monthly payment is scheduled to go out next week. Many families are putting the monthly Child Tax Credits to use, covering everything from food to rent to utilities. And its impact on child poverty has been significant – one recent analysis found that further expansion of the credit could cut child poverty almost in half across much of the country.