House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal on Monday called for lawmakers to make permanent the COVID-19 boost to the child tax credit, advancing another front in Democrats’ quest to expand the welfare state as the party essentially dares Republicans to try to roll back the new benefits.
Mr. Neal launched the offensive immediately after the Treasury Department announced the first round of payments from a one-year extension in the $1.9 trillion relief package will go out starting in July.
“Now that nearly 90% of our nation’s children will benefit from this critical lifeline, we must make this change permanent,” the Massachusetts Democrat said. “Millions of families are counting on us, and the Ways and Means Committee stands ready to make it happen.”
Mr. Neal had also praised the Biden administration’s announcement earlier Monday that the payments would start going out soon.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig had raised doubts earlier this year about whether the agency would be able to set up a system so quickly to dole out the payments for the bolstered credit on a recurring basis.
Mr. Neal and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut are among the key congressional Democrats who have been lobbying for a permanent extension to the expanded child credit. The temporary COVID-19 relief package increased the typical $2,000-per-child credit to $3,000 — and $3,600 for children under the age of 6.
Mr. Biden included an extension of the expanded credit through 2025 in his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan.” Permanently extending the bolstered credit would cost nearly $1.6 trillion over 10 years, according to an estimate from the Tax Foundation, a think tank.
Despite the cost, Democrats are banking on the fact that it will be politically unpopular for lawmakers to try to rip the benefit away and that it will follow in the footsteps of other, now-permanent fixtures of the tax code.
“One thing that you should know about the tax code: Getting something out of the code is oftentimes harder than getting something in the code,” Mr. Neal said in March ahead of final House passage of the relief bill.
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