A senior House Democrat called on Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) to offer his peers a more “means-tested” version of the Child Tax Credit, a policy that paid most American parents hundreds of dollars per child last year.
“I would like to see [Manchin] come forward with a means-tested child tax credit bill,” House Majority Rep. Jim Clyburn (DS.C.) said during an interview Thursday with The Washington Post Live. “I think it will pass. You can get it through the Senate. I think you could get it through the House of Representatives. … Build Back Better has a lot to say for it, so let’s do it.”
Means testing refers to the application of stricter rules for granting benefits to people based on their income.
Leading Democrats have suggested they would be willing to strike a deal with Manchin to get back monthly payments, but they have generally shied away from passing stricter eligibility rules, as Clyburn did on Thursday. And Senate Democrats did not mention any possibility of a compromise earlier this week when they sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to continue supporting the child tax credit.
Urges Manchin to clarify what policy he is willing to support, as long as no progress is made. The two houses are reportedly the closest to agreeing on the climate parts of the bill.
The Build Back Better plan included a one-year extension of the benefits program that ended earlier this month. Democrats hope to revive the social spending and climate bill in the coming months, but its fate ultimately rests with Manchin. The conservative Democrat expressed concerns about its cost and even told colleagues that he thought parents would spend their monthly child tax credits on medicines.
However, Manchin went out of his way to talk about the child tax credit in a separate interview Thursday after asked a radio host from West Virginia. whether any negotiations between Democrats on the Recovery Act were any better.
“West Virginians who make $75,000 or less should be our highest priority,” Manchin told a MetroNews Talkline anchor.. “They have up to $200,000 per person and $400,000 per family. It’s a lot of money that we allocate, but I think it’s more needed on a targeted basis, which I call “means-tested.”
Manchin mixed two different eligibility thresholds for two different versions of the loan. Last year, Democrats raised the maximum loan amount to $3,600 per child for two-parent families making less than $150,000 a year and told the IRS to pay the money upfront in monthly installments. While this extended version of the loan expired earlier this year, the $2,000 version of the loan remains at the eligibility thresholds that Manchin described, only with no upfront monthly payments and no benefits for people without income.
Democrats seem more open to compromise, considering excluding richer households from benefits rather than poorer ones, but Manchin suggested he would push to deny benefits to both.
Still, the fact that Manchin is talking about changes to the child tax credit at all may be good news for Democrats, especially after Biden said last week that there was little hope that he could bring back the extra credit.