Democrats eye bill providing permanent benefits of at least $3K per child

House Democrats are looking to introduce a bill that would permanently expand benefits to families with children. 

Reps. Suzan DelBene (Wash.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) are looking to introduce the American Family Act (AFA), which would provide a significant boost to the federal aid families get under the child tax credit.

While the timeline for introducing the bill is still in flux, the legislation would provide families $3,000 per year per child and $3,600 per year for kids under 6 years old. The benefit would be paid monthly — $250 per month for kids 6 to 17 years old and $300 per month for kids under 6 — with the intention that families can get the funds before filing taxes and would phase out over time for higher-earning families. 

The legislation was introduced in the last Congress and earned the support of 38 of 47 Senate Democrats and 187 of 232 House Democrats. However, the effort to pass the bill got a shot in the arm after President Biden came out in support of a one-year expansion of the credit as part of his coronavirus stimulus package, a proposal that falls short of what House Democrats are seeking but opens the door to boosting the federal aid families receive.

“Reps. DelBene and DeLauro are planning to reintroduce the American Family Act soon. We are currently working through technical changes to the bill, including discussions with the Biden administration on how this would be implemented to get benefits to families quickly and efficiently,” said Nick Martin, a DelBene spokesperson.

“The president’s support for this policy is a game-changer. The one-year expansion is important pandemic relief policy but permanently expanding the benefit could give millions of children the opportunity to succeed. The permanent expansion is estimated to lift 4 million children out of poverty and cut deep poverty among children in half,” he added. 

The legislation would specifically direct the IRS to send the payments automatically to American families in a similar fashion as that used to distribute $1,200 stimulus checks early last year as part of a COVID-19 relief package.

The Democrats view the legislation as a tool to help families ease the financial burden that’s been placed on them by the coronavirus pandemic, but the bill faces an uphill battle in Congress given narrow margins in the House and Senate and broad opposition from Republicans over the measure’s price tag. 

While similar plans have attracted pockets of Republican support in the past, the party is widely expected to reject the proposal over a price tag that could reach $120 billion for one year, according to estimates by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. 

The U.S. spends less on child benefits as a share of its economy than almost any other developed nation in the world.

Tags Joe Biden Rosa DeLauro Suzan DelBene

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