Democrats adjust language on child tax credit in relief bill

House Democrats are slightly modifying language in a provision on the child tax credit in their coronavirus relief package in an effort to prevent the Senate parliamentarian from ruling against the provision.

The original version of the relief package directs the Treasury Department to make advance payments of the child tax credit on a monthly basis. A manager’s amendment to the bill replaces the word “monthly” with “periodic.”

The House is expected to pass the relief package late Friday. From there, it goes to the Senate, where it will need to comply with the chamber’s budget-reconciliation rules in order to be able to pass with a simple majority vote. These rules include that provisions have to be related to the federal budget, and they can’t have an impact on the budget that’s “merely incidental” to the non-budgetary aspects of the provision.

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The Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, is tasked with determining whether provisions in the relief measure follow the budget rules. On Thursday, she ruled that a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour didn’t meet the rules.

Democratic senators had said on Thursday that they didn’t know if the parliamentarian would rule in favor of the provision on monthly payments.

The portion on advance payments is one of several ways that House Democrats’ bill would expand the child tax credit.

The bill would also temporarily increase the credit amount from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for older children. It also would make the credit fully refundable, which would allow the lowest-income families to receive the full credit amount. These parts of the bill are not expected to face any issues with the Senate parliamentarian.