Joe Manchin, the multimillionaire Democratic Senator from West Virginia who for months has been chipping away at President Biden’s domestic agenda, is now taking aim at the child tax credit. These monthly stimulus check-type payments are currently received upon by millions of Americans. They’re also often relied upon to help households make ends meet.
Specifically, Sen. Manchin thinks the child tax credit checks are far too generous as well as reaching too many people. They’re stimulus checks, by the way, about which the IRS shared this update on Friday: the just-issued batch of payments Friday totaled around $15 billion. And they’re going out, largely as direct deposits, to some 36 million US families. Sen. Manchin, meanwhile, has told the White House that he wants two new requirements put in place going forward. One is a work requirement in order to get the checks. And the second is a family income cap of $60,000.
Sen. Joe Manchin takes aim at child tax credit
Those priorities from the Senator matter for a couple of hugely important reasons. President Biden is already on record in support of extending the child tax credit, which the $1.9 trillion stimulus law earlier this year funded a 1-year extension of. Americans are getting the benefit of that extension in the form of six once-a-month checks, which will end in December. Those will be complemented by a larger-than-normal credit they can take at tax time in 2022.
Democrats want to continue structuring that tax credit so that checks keep going out monthly. Instead of making people wait to get the benefit all at once, that is, like they did prior to 2020. However, that goal has to be balanced against the current reality of the US Senate — where Democrats hold the absolute narrowest of margins. The split is 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break tie votes.
But since it thus becomes imperative for every Democrat to hang together, that also means the president’s ambitions can get wrecked if a single Democrat, like Manchin, threatens to break ranks. Unless Democrats as a whole add Republican members to the fold on a specific vote? That means a Senator like Manchin can demand (and get) changes to this or that legislation.
The rest of the checks
As things stand now, with the fourth of six stimulus checks having gone out on Friday, recipients will get two more under the current authorization. Those checks are going out on November 15, with the final check coming on December 15.
Manchin’s concerns about the child tax credit come amid the Biden administration’s fight to pass an expansive $3.5 trillion social spending plan. Manchin, and to a lesser extent Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema, have been taking advantage of the narrow party split in the Senate and cajoling fellow Democrats to accommodate their own interests, rather than the other way around.
The need for 50 Senators to stick together thus makes one outlier even more of a deciding factor than ever.
Manchin also doesn’t like that, this year, Biden extended the child tax credit to families with no taxable income. According to estimates from the White House, this benefit can cut childhood poverty in the US in half. However, it’s certainly expensive, to say the least. The cost is an estimated $450 billion to keep the extended child tax credit in place for another four years. Which is something President Biden has already said he wants to try and achieve.