Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, appears to have ended the possibility of hundreds of dollars in monthly direct payments being made to American parents in the New Year with his declared opposition to the Build Back Better law on Sunday. by President Joe Biden.
Millions of Americans have urged the federal government to provide more stimulus checks or recurring monthly payments throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Congress doesn’t appear to be planning to approve a fourth round of stimulus checks, lawmakers have repeatedly highlighted the popular child tax credit passed as part of Biden’s US bailout in the spring.
Under this legislation, parents in the United States began receiving monthly direct payments of $ 300 for each child under 6 and $ 250 for children 6 to 17. However, the last child tax credit checks approved under the US bailout were sent out last week. Under the Build Back Better law, payments to parents were reportedly extended, but Manchin said on Sunday he would not vote in favor of the legislation.
“If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for. And I can’t vote to continue with this bill,” Manchin said. Fox News Sunday. “I can’t. I tried everything humanly possible. I can’t do it.”
The West Virginia Democrat has raised concerns about rapid inflation as a reason for his opposition. Inflation hit a nearly four-decade high as consumer prices jumped nearly 7%.
While Democrats and moderate Republicans have consistently raised inflation concerns to express qualms or opposition to the Build Back Better Act, leading economists have said the bill will “tone down” the impact of rising consumer costs. Major U.S. rating agencies have also said they do not believe the Democratic legislation will have a significant impact on the current inflationary crisis.
Although Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden, have already admitted they won’t be successful in adopting Build Back Better before the end of the year, they had optimistically suggested it could be approved in January. That would have resulted in a halt in child tax credit payments, but the White House had suggested parents could later receive double payments to close the gap.
“If we do this in January, we have discussed with Treasury officials and others the possibility of making double payments in February,” Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, told reporters on Friday. “But the president wants to see this move forward, it is a priority for him as soon as the Congress returns.”
However, with Manchin’s open opposition, it seems almost impossible for the Build Back Better Act to be approved. Democrats aimed to get the bill passed through the budget reconciliation process, with Republicans unanimously opposed to the legislation. With an equally divided Senate, Democrats would need all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the legislative chamber to support Biden’s plan for him to be successful.
Manchin had resisted the Build Back Better Act since the start of negotiations. The moderate Democrat had frustrated progressives and the White House as they debated the bill over the past few months to reach a compromise. Initially, Manchin objected to the high price tag, which led Biden and Democratic leaders to cut the total cost in half. Then, the senator continued to express his concerns about the potential impact on inflation as well as the main provisions relating to climate change.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans have called on the federal government to provide more direct economic aid. Instead, families across the country will see the end of direct child tax credit payments.
Nearly 3 million people have signed an online petition calling on Congress to pass a law giving all Americans $ 2,000 a month for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Change.org petition also calls for additional payments of $ 1,000 to be sent to parents for dependent children.
Congress first passed a series of $ 1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans in March 2020 as the pandemic led to lockdowns across the country. Then, in December 2020, Congress passed another round of direct payments of $ 600 to the majority of Americans. After Biden took office, Democrats – with no Republican backing – approved a third round of stimulus checks. These payments amounted to up to $ 1,400.
More than 80 Democratic lawmakers have publicly expressed their support for sending monthly payments. But as child tax credits end without sufficient Democrat support for the Build Back Better law, it seems even more unlikely that Americans will see additional stimulus checks in the near future.
The White House said in a statement sent to News week Sunday, “Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part thanks to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that helps reach this milestone – we can not.”
Leading progressive Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont called on Manchin for his opposition to the Build Back Better Act, highlighting the positive impact that child tax credits had in 2021.
Manchin “should explain to West Virginia and the American people why he lacks the courage to oppose powerful vested interests and cut prescription drug costs; expand medicare to cover dental care , hearing aids and glasses; continue the $ 300 per child straight monthly that has reduced child poverty by more than 40%; and tackle the devastating effects of climate change, “Sanders said in an emailed statement to News week.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement to News week that Manchin “betrayed his commitment not only to the President and the Congressional Democrats, but especially to the American people.”
“The American people want and deserve their critical daily needs addressed. That is why all elements of Build Back Better legislation are overwhelmingly supported by Americans from all political walks of life,” Jayapal said. .
News week contacted several other progressive lawmakers for comment on Manchin’s opposition, but did not immediately receive responses.
Update December 19, 2021 at 1:00 p.m.: A statement from Jayapal has been added.