U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Thursday that Democrats may not get any Republican support to pass legislation that would extend or possibly even make permanent the monthly expanded child tax credit payments that are set to expire at the end of the year.
The payments are set to arrive in bank accounts and mailboxes throughout the nation starting today. They are part of the American Rescue Plan Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in March.
Under the legislation, certain low and middle-income families with children under age 6 are eligible to receive up to $300 per month per child. Families with children ages 6-17 are eligible to receive up to $250 per month per child. The payments will continue through December 31.
But extending the payments beyond that date would require further legislative action and Democrats hope to make that provision a key part of the Biden’s administration’s American Families Plan.
About 1.1 million Maryland children are currently eligible for the payments. And proponents say the payments could lift as many as 52,000 Maryland children out of poverty.
“We do not have Republican support in the Senate for moving that forward,” Van Hollen said in response to a question from MarylandReporter.com at a virtual roundtable discussion forum that featured policy analysts and Maryland parents. “That passed originally just a few months ago as part of the American Rescue Plan. We did not have any Senate Republicans supporting the American Rescue Plan. Not one. So it does not look like we will get their support to extend this.”
However, Van Hollen noted optimistically that Democrats, who have a 51-50 majority in the Senate due to Vice President Kamala Harris and her ability to cast a tie-breaking vote-can pass the expanded tax credit extension without any GOP support if they opt to use the budget reconciliation process.
“The good news is that there is a procedure in the Senate when it comes to budget issues and certainly the child tax credit falls under that category-there is a procedure in the Senate where we can pass that with 51 votes.”
Still, Van Hollen said the legislation “has a long way to go” before it is finalized and that he hopes that in the end some Republicans ultimately decide to support it.
Laura Weeldryer, executive director, Maryland Family Network, said studies have shown that expanded child tax credit payments have been a game changer for many children from low-income families.
“Those raises in income can be linked to better test scores, higher graduation rates from high school, less drug use, and higher lifetime earnings and employment as adults. This is truly an investment in the kind of the country that we want to be.”
Kali Schumitz, director of communications and partner engagement, Maryland Center on Economic Policy, echoed similar sentiments.
“We all benefit when families are doing better. There are millions of dollars coming to Marylanders through this tax credit that will help our economy recover.”
Macheal Simpson-Gray, a Baltimore City Parent, called the expanded child tax credit a “blessing.”
“The child tax credit is such a blessing…just to note that money is coming in from the child tax credit is a sigh of relief. It is not a major relief. It is not an: ‘I can sleep well for the rest of the year…’But at least it is an: “I can sleep well for this month.’ My kids will have a roof over their heads for the next month. Our bills will be paid for another month. It is definitely a blessing to have extra income coming in.”