Sen. Joe Manchin laid down another marker regarding President Joe Biden’s massive $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” bill, saying he will only support a child tax credit provision if it comes with a work requirement and at a greatly reduced income level.
The Daily Mail, citing unnamed sources, reported that the West Virginia Democrat declared if the program will continue into next year, it must contain a solid requirement that recipients find work so that they cannot use the benefit as their primary or only means of income.
In addition, Manchin has said he will only support the tax credit if it is available to families earning $60,000 or less, which is a major reduction in the current earnings cap, where families making up to $150,000 per year can qualify for a credit of up to $3,600 per child.
Manchin’s demands essentially put the program on ice without any subsequent Republican support in the 50-50 Senate, though if Democrats agree the cost of the program will be significantly less to taxpayers.
The demand comes on top of the moderate Democrat’s previous statements that he isn’t willing to support an overall spending bill higher than $1.5 trillion.
“I don’t believe that we should turn our society into an entitlement society. I think we should still be a compassionate, rewarding society,” he said earlier this month in touting the lower price tag he would support.
Manchin’s new demands for the child tax credit are only likely to further inflame tensions with his party’s far-left wing, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist who caucuses with Manchin’s party. The two have been engaged in a war of words for weeks as Sanders and his supporters are pushing for the entire $3.5 trillion package.
“The $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, supported by President Biden and almost all Democrats in Congress, is an unprecedented effort to finally address the long-neglected crises facing working families and demand that the wealthiest people and largest corporations in the country start paying their fair share of taxes,” Sanders wrote in an op-ed published in a Charleston, W. Va., newspaper on Sunday.
“Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation. Yet, the political problem we face is that in a 50-50 Senate we need every Democratic senator to vote ‘yes,’ We now have only 48. Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin,” he added.
Manchin responded, saying, essentially, that he, not Sanders, represents the state of West Virginia.
“This isn’t the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state,” Manchin, who also formerly served as West Virginia governor, said.
The American Families Plan, which is part of Biden’s larger bill, raised the yearly child tax benefit to $3,000 for children aged 6-17; the plan provides the $3,600 credit for kids under six years old.
Eligible families began receiving checks for the higher benefits in July, but the program is set to expire at the end of this year. Before the increase, the maximum child tax benefit was $2,000, which was raised from $1,000 under then-President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax reform plan.
Democrats are proposing to take away the income limits altogether, meaning even parents who earned nothing would still be eligible to receive $3,600 per year per child for kids six and younger. And they want to make the credit, which took effect this year as part of COVID-19 relief, permanent in the Build Back Better measure.
But there is no Republican support for either measure, and moderate Democrats in both the House and Senate are pushing back on the higher spending level.
“Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) held a call with House centrist lawmakers last Wednesday in which the senators detailed some of their specific concerns about Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending plan,” Axios reported Sunday, noting Manchin’s “red lines” for the bill.
Sinema also said on the call she isn’t willing to support Biden’s plan at all until a smaller $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill she helped negotiate is passed first, Axios noted.
Also, neither she nor Manchin are on board for smaller Build Back Better spending plans in the $1.9-$2.2 trillion range. And Manchin has called Democrats’ Clean Electricity Performance Program, which seeks to achieve zero-carbon emissions energy production, “is a non-starter.”
West Virginia is the six-largest producer of natural gas in the country, and Manchin has said he wants the clean-burning fuel to be a part of that program.
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