House

Pelosi downplays odds of standalone child tax credit extension

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday declined to entertain the possibility of Congress passing a standalone extension of the child tax credit if it isn’t extended through the social spending package before the end of the month.

Pelosi said the current expiration of the child tax credit slated for the end of December is “really important leverage” to keep pressure on senators to pass the Build Back Better (BBB) Act, President Biden’s social spending and climate package.

The social spending package as passed by the House last month would extend the child tax credit, which was expanded under Democrats’ COVID-19 relief package, for one year.

“I don’t want to let anybody off the hook on the BBB to say, ‘Well we covered that one thing, so now the pressure is off,'” Pelosi told reporters at a press conference in the Capitol.

“I think that that is really important leverage in the discussion on BBB, that the children and their families will suffer without that payment. Not everybody gets it on a monthly basis, but those who need it the most do,” Pelosi said.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been aiming for the upper chamber to pass the social spending package by Christmas, but that deadline may slip due to continued resistance from centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as well as ongoing reviews by the parliamentarian to ensure the legislation complies with budget rules.

Schumer notably did not mention his goal for passing the legislation by Christmas during Senate floor remarks on Wednesday morning, saying only that “this week Democrats also continue working on getting the Senate into a position where we can vote on the President’s Build Back Better legislation.”

The Treasury Department and IRS made their final monthly child tax credit payments on Wednesday under the COVID-19 relief law. The payments are estimated to have reached about 61 million children.

Since July, qualifying families have received monthly payments of up to $300 for each child under age 6 and up to $250 for each child ages 6 to 17. The IRS has told members of Congress that an extension of the child tax credit should be passed by Dec. 28 in order for a monthly payment to be made on Jan. 15.

Pelosi said it’s possible that people who have been receiving the monthly child tax credit payments in recent months could still get it retroactively in January if Congress acts quickly enough.

“We’re just still optimistic about BBB passing. And perhaps even if it were after the first of the year — which I hope it is not — that it could be retroactive if it’s early enough,” Pelosi said.

Even if House Democrats wanted to pass a standalone extension of the child tax credit, it’s not clear that it could become law given that it might run into a Senate GOP filibuster.

Democrats have only passed the expanded child tax credit — and are attempting to do so again with the social spending package — using the budget reconciliation process that allows them to circumvent a filibuster in the Senate.

“Of course, we could pass that in the House. Whether we could pass it in the Senate remains to be seen,” Pelosi said.

Tags Build Back Better Charles Schumer Child tax credit Joe Biden Joe Manchin Nancy Pelosi

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