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Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks to reporters.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, speaks with reporters outside the U.S. Capitol Building on November 18, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

'Pass BBB Now,' Jayapal Demands as Senate Hold-Up Threatens to Delay Key Child Benefits

"Delays to passing Build Back Better have real consequences on families. Working people are waiting. They need us to act."

Jake Johnson

Rep. Pramila Jayapal on Wednesday pressured her Democratic colleagues in the Senate to urgently pick up the pace of Build Back Better negotiations amid warnings that key child benefits could be delayed if talks spill over into the new year.

"Delays to passing Build Back Better have real consequences on families," Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, wrote on Twitter, pointing to a HuffPost report noting that expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments for the month of January could be held up if Democrats don't complete work on their $1.75 trillion reconciliation package in the coming days.

"It is not acceptable for vulnerable children and families to miss out on a child tax credit payment."

"Working people are waiting," Jayapal added. "They need us to act. The Senate has to pass BBB now."

Approved under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the expanded CTC sends eligible families monthly payments of up to $300 per child under the age of six and $250 per child between the ages of six and 17.

While the program has been marred by significant accessibility barriers—particularly for low-income people who aren't required to file federal taxes—research has shown the expanded CTC has nonetheless helped to slash child poverty and hunger amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The current version of the Build Back Better Act would continue the payments for just another year after right-wing Democrats—led by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)—killed efforts to make the expanded benefit permanent.

But the monthly check eligible families are set to receive on December 15 could be the last as Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)—the most prominent Democratic swing votes—refuse to commit to supporting the final, dramatically watered down reconciliation package. Research published last week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that nearly 10 million children could be pushed back into poverty or into even deeper poverty if the CTC payments are cut off entirely.

"Our country would not accept vulnerable senior citizens missing out on a Social Security payment," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, told the Washington Post on Thursday. "Similarly it is not acceptable for vulnerable children and families to miss out on a child tax credit payment."

Manchin, whose opposition would be enough to tank the entire reconciliation package, has repeatedly pushed Democrats to restrict eligibility for the CTC payments by lowering the income cut-off and imposing a work requirement, ideas that have been rejected thus far.

"We need to get Build Back Better done... People need the help."

During a Tuesday event hosted by the Wall Street Journal, Manchin once again declined to say whether he intends to vote for the final Build Back Better Act and reiterated his complaints about the social spending aspects of the legislation.

"If we keep sending checks, it's going to be hard to stop the checks," said the West Virginia senator, who has had no problem approving trillions of dollars in military spending in recent years.

Speaking to Business Insider on Wednesday, Manchin declared that "we've done everything that we can to help people" during the pandemic, casting further doubt on the speedy passage of the Build Back Better Act, which the House approved last month.

In recent days, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has expressed confidence that the legislation is on track to pass before Christmas despite Manchin's public gripes.

But the reconciliation package is still facing scrutiny from the unelected Senate parliamentarian and talks over various provisions—from paid leave to climate programs—are in flux as Manchin attempts to weaken the bill even further.

The Internal Revenue Service has told lawmakers that the Build Back Better Act must pass by December 28 if CTC payments are to go out on time the following month.

"We need to get Build Back Better done," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told CBS News on Wednesday. "We have talked and talked and talked and talked. It's not as if we need to talk some more to figure out what this bill is about and what it does. People need the help."

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