The leader of the House Democrats is vowing a quick expansion of the child tax credit to include more families if the party takes control of the lower chamber following November’s elections.
Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) had joined most Democrats on Wednesday in supporting a bipartisan package combining an expanded child tax credit with several tax breaks for businesses. But he said the bill didn’t go far enough to help struggling families, and that Democrats will augment those benefits — given the chance.
“From our point of view, it is clear that we need to go further with respect to the child tax credit,” Jeffries said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol.
The comments represent both a message to voters and a nod to the Democratic critics of the tax package that moved through the House this week. While the legislation enjoyed broad bipartisan support, a number of liberal Democrats voted against it to protest what they deemed an unfair distribution of the benefits: Businesses, they said, got a better deal than families.
“This deal is deeply inequitable — at a time when we have seen the greatest rise in inequality with the biggest corporations making super profits at the expense of the consumer,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), senior Democrat on the power Appropriations Committee, said after the vote. “It is a mockery of who representative government works for.”
Democrats had expanded the child tax credit in 2021 — when they controlled the Senate, House and White House — under President Biden’s pandemic stimulus package. That law had provided most families with an annual payment of $3,000 for every child between age 6 and 17, and $3,600 for children under age 6. The benefit expired at the end of 2021, returning those payments to their previous level of $2,000.
Jeffries called the 2021 increase “transformational” because of its wide sweep and suggested Democrats would expand the benefit even further as soon as possible.
“[It] benefitted middle class families, working families and low-income families all at the same time,” he said. “We should build upon that moving forward. And that’s what House Democrats plan to do at the first available opportunity.”
Such a proposed expansion is sure to spark a fight with conservative Republicans, many of whom had opposed this week’s tax package with warnings that the child credit discourages lower-income parents from seeking work.