Death of Biden economic bill eliminates extension of child tax credits

Looks like the Build Back Better Act, which would've added an extension to the credits, won't make it past the Senate.

With the death of a major economic relief bill this week, the child tax credit that’s been a significant linchpin of relief during the COVID-19 pandemic might be gone for good, leaving countless families heading into the holidays with financial uncertainty.

Families started receiving the tax credit in July in monthly payments as part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, which expanded the tax credit that, for decades, was only available to parents who were actively working or looking for employment. The credit impacts more than 65 million children.  

Nine families that are benefiting from the Child Tax Credit listen to U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deliver remarks on July 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The plan removed work requirements and increased the amount from $2,000 per child to $3,000, with a $600 bonus for kids under 6 for the 2021 tax year. The first half of the credit was delivered from July to December in monthly payments; the remainder will be delivered when families file 2021 tax returns.

The last of the year’s tax credit checks went out Dec. 15.

The six-month credit had the potential to be made permanent with the Build Back Better Act, the president’s $1.9 trillion climate and economic package. With every Republican senator opposing the bill, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin effectively killed it this week as the single Democratic swing vote.

The moderate Manchin has long stood in opposition to the Build Back Better Act, recently taking his complaints about the bill and its potential to exacerbate inflation to conservative Fox News Sunday.

“I can’t vote for and I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t,” Manchin told Fox News. “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.”

“Today’s news is a crushing blow to millions of families relying on the expanded Child Tax Credit to make ends meet,”  Bethany Robertson, co-director of family advocacy nonprofit ParentsTogether, told NBC News. “Families will continue to fight for an extension of the monthly Child Tax Credit and other policies to help them thrive.”

There’s been significant intra-party blowback against Manchin for his holdout, including from the White House.

“Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part due to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that is helping achieve this milestone — we cannot,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday in a statement.

COVID-adjacent relief is not just ending with the child tax credit: student loan relief is also drawing to a close. Loan payments will restart Feb. 1.  

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