(CNSNews.com) - House Democrat leaders on Tuesday celebrated the anticipated passage on Wednesday of their $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, only a fraction of which is related to COVID relief.
And those Democrats already are planning to make some of the provisions permanent, including the expanded child tax credit, which will send government checks to millions of families every month, but only for the 2021 tax year.
The legislation provides a child tax credit of $3,000 per child, up from the current $2,000; the amount is $3,600 for children under age 6. The full expanded credit will be available to individuals making up to $75,000 and married couples making up to $150,000.
In a new twist, families won't have to wait until they file their taxes to get the child allowance. The payments, around $300 a month, would start going out in July, but only through December 2021.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who sponsored the expanded child tax credit, told reporters on Tuesday he's already working on making the direct monthly payments permanent:
"Well, one thing that you should know about the tax code, getting something out of the code is oftentimes harder than getting something in the code. So I've already had some thoughts about how we're going to expand it and make it permanent. And I intend to share those in the near future. But what we did is unlikely to go away," Neal told a news conference.
A reporter asked Neal if he'd like to share his ideas, including how he plans to pay for a permanent child allowance:
"I've got some ideas I will share with you at the right moment," Neal replied.
Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chimed in: "This is a very important issue for us," she said.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also took a question about the monthly child allowance at a separate event on Tuesday:
"Should that be made permanent?" a reporter asked Hoyer on a conference call:
" I think that this is good policy," Hoyer responded:
This bill is projected to bring about half of the children who are now living in poverty, out of poverty. What a wonderful thing to do for our country. And the question you ask about--the follow-on into making it permanent, I think there's a lot of sentiment to making this policy a policy that's ongoing to keep children out of poverty and to have more healthy children living in better conditions.
So, I don't--I'm not going to speculate as to when such legislation may come--come up, but I--I don't think it will be immediately. I think there'll be a lot of discussion about how that policy can be made permanent or either in the form that's in it now or in some modified form. But there's a lot of sentiment to do that, yes.
If this sounds like universal basic income -- it is.
As The New York Times put it:
[T]he child benefit has the makings of a policy revolution. Though framed in technocratic terms as an expansion of an existing tax credit, it is essentially a guaranteed income for families with children, akin to children’s allowances that are common in other rich countries.
The plan establishes the benefit for a single year. But if it becomes permanent, as Democrats intend, it will greatly enlarge the safety net for the poor and the middle class at a time when the volatile modern economy often leaves families moving between those groups. More than 93 percent of children — 69 million — would receive benefits under the plan, at a one-year cost of more than $100 billion.
According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, President Biden talked about making the child tax credit permanent during the campaign.
"He certainly is open to continuing to look for avenues to do exactly that," Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.
"He believes that benefits like the $3,000 child tax credit that is included in this package are benefits that help address what he and the vice president feel is a crisis, which is the large number of women who are leaving the workforce and have left the workforce since the pandemic started. So, he will certainly continue to look for avenues on that."