Manchin may pose a threat to getting child tax credits extended through 2025

The House Ways and Means Committee on Friday released a draft measure of the $3.5 trillion budget bill that would extend the monthly child credit payments of up to $300 per child through 2025. But Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Sunday that he’d like to see more restrictions around who receives the expanded child tax credit, such as work or education requirements.

Manchin, whose vote is critical in a Senate with a 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats, said Sunday that he would not support the Democrats’ bid for a $3.5 trillion budget, adding that he had reservations about extending the 2021 child tax credit in its current form.

“I support child tax credits. I sure am trying to help children,” Manchin said during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. But the senator expressed concerns. “Before you start saying, is it going to be permanent, this and that, let’s see how we’re doing this. Let’s make sure that we’re getting it to the right people,” he said. 

Currently, the 2021 child tax credit is set to pay families up to $3,000 per child for those between the ages of 6 and 17 and up to $3,600 per child under the age of 6. The amount of the credit is based on a family’s modified adjusted gross income, with payments starting to phase out for single parents (filing as head of household) earning $112,500 a year or $150,000 among those who are married and filing jointly. 

Families can opt to have half of the total 2021 credit amount paid out in advance monthly payments worth up to $300 per child and claim the other half when they file their 2021 income tax return. About 35 million U.S. families received the first advance payment of the 2021 child tax credit. 

But Manchin said that households earning a combined $400,000 have told him they are receiving these advanced payments, and he noted that caps needed to be put in place. Additionally, Manchin said he wanted to see more restrictions on who’s eligible beyond an earnings cap. “There’s no work requirements whatsoever; there’s no education requirements whatsoever for better skill sets. Don’t you think if we want to help the children, the people should make some effort?” Manchin said. But the senator stopped short of saying he would vote against a package that did not include additional restrictions on the child tax credit. 

Friday’s draft measure released under the direction of House Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) does not have any eligibility restrictions beyond income and essentially extends the child tax credit in its current form through 2025.

That too is a compromise, as many Democrats, including Neal, wanted the 2021 child tax credit permanently extended. But Neal said Friday that even the limited extension would help families, especially when combined with the bill’s expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and other proposed credits. “Taken together, these proposals expand opportunity for the American people and support our efforts to build a healthier, more prosperous future for the country,” Neal said in a statement.

Advocates claim the child tax credit could substantially reduce child poverty in the U.S. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that the child tax credit would reduce the number of families with incomes below the poverty line by more than 40%. Already, the Census Bureau has found that the number of U.S. households with children reporting food insufficiency and difficulty paying bills dropped as child tax credit payments arrived in July.

For lawmakers like Manchin who worry that social programs like the child tax credit will keep Americans from heading back to work, Kris Cox, deputy director of CBPP’s federal tax policy, said that outcome is “negligible” and is far outweighed by the large benefits to children.

“Making it harder for the poorest families to access the child tax credit will hurt the children that need it the most. We know that many families are spending this money on necessities like food and rent,” Cox said.

More politics coverage from Fortune:

Subscribe to Fortune Daily to get essential business stories straight to your inbox each morning.

Read More

Biden AdministrationUkraine InvasionInflationEnergyCybersecurity