Dems try to shoehorn major child poverty reduction plan into Covid bill

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Congressional Democrats will try to insert a major child poverty reduction proposal into their Covid relief package when it comes up for consideration in the next few weeks.

The proposal, details of which are still being finalized, would provide families a $3,600-per-child allowance for children under the age of 6 over the course of three years. and $3,000 per child for those between the ages of 6 and 17. The size of the benefit would grow smaller at certain yearly income levels — $75,000 for single parents and $150,000 for a couple’s aggregate total — and would be distributed on a monthly basis.

News of the proposal was first reported by The Washington Post. A copy of the proposed legislation — which is being spearheaded by House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) — was obtained by POLITICO.

“The pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating,” Neal said in a statement. “We are making the Child Tax Credit more generous, more accessible, and by paying it out monthly, this money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table. This is how the tax code is supposed to work for those who need it most, and so long as I am Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, it’s what you can expect to see from us.”

Experts say that such a measure would make a dramatic contribution in lowering child poverty, which has been worsened by the Covid pandemic. And, as of last week, there is bipartisan support for it with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introducing child allowance legislation of his own.

But the likelihood of passage would still be remote given the slim Democratic majority in the Senate and the early Republican opposition to Romney’s proposal, in part because aid would be sent to both working and nonworking Americans.

And so, Democrats are pushing to include the measure as part of a reconciliation package that they are putting together in the coming weeks. Such a measure only requires 50 votes for passage in the Senate, but it could be axed if the Senate parliamentarian rules that it is extraneous to budget-related matters.

“There are worries about the Byrd rule,” said a congressional Democratic aide, referencing the rule governing such matters.

A Senate Democratic source said that they would be seeking to include it in their version as well.

A White House spokesperson said: “The President has made it a central priority of his first legislative proposal to cut child poverty in half this year through a child tax credit expansion in the American Rescue Plan, and looks forward to working with members of Congress on this legislation.”

News that Democrats will push to include a child allowance measure in their reconciliation package comes as President Joe Biden stated on Friday that he did not believe that another major provision — the hiking of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour — would not survive a parliamentarian’s ruling. Several congressional Democrats on Sunday pressed leadership to find avenues to make a minimum wage hike reconciliation compliant.

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