Sen. Joe Manchin leaves the U.S. Capitol

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) enters his car after participating in a vote at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Build Back Better Verges on Collapse as Manchin Attempts to Kill Child Tax Credit

"Put the bill on the floor and make him explain that he voted it down because he wanted to cut all of the money for families with children," suggested one progressive commentator.

The Build Back Better Act is teetering on the brink of collapse following reports Wednesday that right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin wants to eliminate the boosted child tax credit, a move that would push millions of kids across the U.S. back into poverty.

Meanwhile, Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday voted in favor of a sprawling $778 billion military spending bill--the 11th consecutive Pentagon budget he's supported without complaining about the cost. The legislation easily passed in bipartisan fashion, 88-11.

Citing an unnamed source, Manu Raju of CNN reported that Manchin (D-W.Va.) wants to "zero it out," referring to the expanded child tax credit (CTC). The Washington Post similarly reported that "Manchin hopes to defund [the CTC] from the bill in full."

"If you wanted to kill BBB completely, this is how you would do it," Judd Legum, author of the Popular Information newsletter, wrote of Manchin's approach.

Manchin's latest objection all but ensures that Senate Democrats won't vote on their flagship reconciliation bill before Christmas--a target set by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)--and could imperil the party's chances of passing the $1.75 trillion legislation at all, given the need for unanimous Democratic support in the upper chamber.

If the bill doesn't pass before year's end, monthly CTC payments will lapse, depriving millions of struggling families of cash that they've used to pay for food, child care, and other necessities amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The West Virginia Democrat's reported push to slash the boosted CTC--which he didn't deny Wednesday when confronted by journalists--prompted immediate outrage from progressive commentators and Democratic senators, who said any attempt to cut the program is unacceptable.

"Put the bill on the floor and make him explain that he voted it down because he wanted to cut all of the money for families with children," writer Zach Carter suggested. "Manchin has already given Republicans the Virginia governor's race. You cannot let him drag this out indefinitely, again."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told reporters Wednesday that "we need the child tax credit," which currently 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.

As it stands, the Build Back Better Act would extend the enhanced CTC for just another year. Manchin and other right-wing Democrats tanked efforts to make the program permanent.

"It has cut childhood poverty in America by nearly half," Warren said of the CTC expansion.

This post has been updated with the most recent vote count for the military spending bill.

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