Expanded child tax credit not included in Congress lame duck spending bill

An omnibus spending bill proposed by lawmakers early Tuesday morning — and likely the last major bill to pass this Congress — did not include an extension of the expanded child tax credit, effectively killing one of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s key priorities for the lame duck session.

Bennet, whom voters overwhelmingly reelected in November, had hoped to leverage an expiring research and development tax credit into a renewal of the child tax credit. Neither made the cut, according to Bloomberg.

In a statement, Bennet laid the blame on Republican lawmakers. They refused to even discuss the deal, he said.

“Republican leaders decided to send a lump of coal to America’s children this year,” Bennet said. “We know that the most significant step Congress can take to help America’s children is to support an expanded Child Tax Credit. When Congress took action on this in 2021, we cut childhood poverty in America in half. We have the data. We know it worked.”

Lawmakers began releasing details of the bill early Tuesday morning. It totals some $1.7 trillion. Congress needs to pass it by Friday to avoid the prospect of a partial government shutdown, according to the Associated Press.

Bennet previously hoped for some kind of bipartisan deal on it, and specifically named Republican U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, of Utah, as a possible partner.

Bennet had helped secure inclusion of the expanded tax credit in the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. It took the form of direct monthly payments: $300 per child younger than 6, and $250 for older children, and scaled depending on household income.

It expired in January. The Census Bureau credited it with nearly halving childhood poverty in the country and lifting some 5.3 million Americans, most of whom are children, out of poverty. That doesn’t include the millions more who weren’t in poverty but otherwise benefited from the expanded credits.

Its renewal hit snags in the form of concerns that it discouraged work and stoked inflation. Bennet said he wasn’t tied to the expanded credit looking exactly like what was in that law, but he did hope to at least close the minimum income requirements to qualify for the tax credit.

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