President Biden on Thursday hailed the expanded child tax credit as a “transformative” achievement that would offer needed relief for families and made the case for Congress to further extend the payments in forthcoming legislation.
In remarks from the White House, Biden said the payments would spur the largest one-year decrease in child poverty in the United States and outlined how eligible families can expect to receive payments or sign up to receive them. Experts say that the tax credit could slash child poverty in half.
“It’s a reflection of our belief that the people of this country who need a tax cut aren’t the folks at the top – they’ve gotten plenty of tax cuts, they’re doing fine – but it’s the people in the middle, the folks who are struggling or who are just looking for a little bit of, as my dad would say, a little breathing room,” Biden said.
Biden spoke to an audience that included nine families who will benefit from the child tax credit relief payments. A child was occasionally heard crying during his remarks, which Biden acknowledged and told the family, “don’t worry about it.”
Vice President Harris also delivered remarks before Biden, offering a personal anecdote about her own experience growing up before emphasizing the impact the monthly payments will have for families.
“If the struggle to make ends meet is monthly, the solution has to be also,” Harris said.
The Treasury Department and IRS began distributing the first batch of monthly child tax credit payments on Thursday, sending payments to roughly 35 million families with almost 60 million children. The payments total roughly $15 billion. The expanded child tax credit payments are funded by the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Biden signed into law in March, his first major legislative accomplishment as president.
Biden noted during his speech that the payments are being dispersed four months after the passage of the coronavirus relief law, calling the timeline proof that “democracy can deliver for people and deliver in a timely way.”
Democrats are launching a blitz to promote the payments to families. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic National Committee together launched a digital ad campaign highlighting the “transformative” payments and their impact on middle-class American families as the economy recovers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden and Democratic leaders will need to keep all 50 senators in the Democratic caucus and virtually all House Democrats united behind the budget bill so that it can pass without Republican support.
As Biden spoke from the White House, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) held a press conference with other Democrats on Capitol Hill to celebrate the expanded child tax credit.
“To quote our dear friend, former senator and current president Joe Biden, this is a big F-ing deal,” Schumer said, referencing a comment Biden made when former President Obama signed his 2010 health-care law.
Biden delivered his speech a day after he attended a Democratic caucus lunch on Capitol Hill to rally his party behind an agreement for a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that is expected to include extensions of the tax-credit expansions enacted in the coronavirus relief law and other Democratic priorities.
Biden said Thursday that he wants to extend the credit and said it could be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Republicans have opposed Biden’s plans to raise taxes.
“To the people who say we can’t afford to give the middle class a break, I say we can afford it by making people at the top and the big corporations … to finally just start paying their fair share,” Biden said. “People who are working hard and paying taxes deserve a break.”
Naomi Jagoda contributed.