The House passed a bipartisan tax bill that could help 16 million low-income children and restore some business tax breaks Wednesday, on a huge vote of 357-70. The bill expands the child tax credit to most of the 19 million children in low-income households that make too little to receive the full credit. It could lift as many as half a million kids out of poverty, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
But Senate Republicans are cool to the idea, despite the fact that 169 House Republicans—a good majority of the party—voted for it. Why? They dress it up in terms of following regular order, putting it through committee and having hearings and an amendment process. The bill was written by GOP House Ways & Means Committee Chair Jason Smith of Missouri and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Republicans grouse about the fact that they weren’t included in the talks. Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho says he wants to “works with colleagues to vet the legislation, address concerns, and make the necessary changes to build support.”
That’s the official Republican line. But here’s Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley saying the quiet part out loud:
Grassley doesn’t want President Joe Biden to “look good mailing out checks before the election, means he could be reelected.” In other words, he’s more interested in helping Donald Trump than poor kids.
Sound familiar? It’s exactly what Republicans are currently doing with the bipartisan border policy bill: taking Trump’s marching orders. They scream at the top of their lungs about border security while blocking any effort to actually address it because the screaming keeps their MAGA voters scared and motivated.
By the way, Grassley’s idea that Biden will be sending out checks just before the election is coming from a “weird rumor” circulating among lobbyists and staffers. Tax experts have debunked it: The credits would be included with tax refunds after people file.
This tax credit expansion is smaller than the pandemic relief included in the American Rescue Plan March 2021. The monthly payments in the pandemic relief program brought a record drop in child poverty rates, keeping about 3 million children from poverty in a matter of a few months. That program provided the credit as monthly checks; this one would be an annual payment for the 2023-2025 tax years. It would allow low-income families who don’t now get the full credit to claim it, helping about 16 million children. About half of those families would receive $630 or more, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found.
For nearly 40 percent of children who would benefit, their family’s gain would be $1,000 or more, and 25 percent of children are in families who would gain more than $1,400 in the first year. The gains for low-income families with more than one child—roughly three-quarters of children in low-income families are in this group—would be particularly large.
In addition to helping millions of low-income kids, the bill gives businesses immediate deductions for research and development as well as machinery and equipment purchases, and allows more interest expense deductions. It’s not a budget-buster: It helps families and businesses. Everyone running for reelection in 2024 could tout it on the stump.
But because it might help one of those people on the campaign trail—Joe Biden—Grassley and other Senate Republicans want to stop it.
There’s a bipartisan plan to ease child poverty—if the GOP will let it happen
Republicans would rather campaign on the border crisis than solve it
Child tax credit checks didn't just pay for food. They brought millions of families peace of mind