Lawmakers are poised to allow an historic investment in lower- and middle-class families lapse as the Child Tax Credit is likely to expire--despite data showing the monthly payments have helped millions of families this year and that Americans support the CTC by a 26-point margin.
Fighting Chance for Families--a project started by progressive think tank Data for Progress with the goal of advocating for the expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC)-- released polling on Wednesday showing nearly half--49%--of likely voters support making the payments permanent, while only 42% say they should end.
"Allowing this credit to lapse now would be devastating for families and threaten the fragile economic recovery."
Democrats back continuing the CTC by a 62-point margin, with more than 70% in support. Nearly a third of Republican voters and 45% of independents also support making the payments permanent.
Fifty-nine percent of likely voters support the expanded CTC, which began in July and has offered families as much as $300 per child each month. Just 33% oppose the program.
As the most recent payments hit millions of families' bank accounts across the country on December 15, the future of the expanded CTC was thrown into peril with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) saying he could not support the Build Back Better Act if the legislation includes the program.
According to the IRS, Democrats must find a way of extending the CTC by December 28 in order for about 61 million children to avoid a gap in the monthly payments that have been credited with slashing childhood poverty rates.
Lawmakers have considered trying to pass standalone legislation and have attempted adding an extension to unrelated bills, so far to no avail.
"With Congress leaving town for the holidays, 35 million families have been thrown into uncertainty and left wondering if they will be cut off from this critical economic support next year," said McKenzie Wilson, spokeswoman for Fighting Chance for Families. "Our new poll finds that a majority of voters support the expanded Child Tax Credit, which has helped families keep their heads above the water, supported local small businesses, and boosted the overall economy. Allowing this credit to lapse now would be devastating for families and threaten the fragile economic recovery."
According to the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, just over half of U.S. families who have received the CTC have used the money primarily to buy groceries. Essential bills, clothing, rent and mortgage payments, and school expenses made up the top five uses for the monthly payments. Without the CTC, 10 million children are expected to be pushed back into poverty following a six-month reprieve.
As the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, families across the country are fearful for the hit their finances are expected to take in January without the CTC:
Eugenia Harper, 38, is raising two children, 7 and 11, in Albany, N.Y. She previously worked as a home health aide, but concerns over exposure during the pandemic led her to cut her hours.
Harper worries what will happen when the payments end.
"There's no thrills and frills," she said. "We need this money just to survive."
The CTC payments will likely come to an end as inflation is pushing up prices for groceries, utilities, and other essentials.
As Common Dreams reported last week, advocates demanded the White House and Congress take action to help families before the end of the year as it appeared millions were receiving their final CTC payment weeks before the federal student loan payment moratorium was set to end on February 1. Following the outcry, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the moratorium would be extended to May.
Progressive advocates on Wednesday kept up the pressure regarding the CTC, demanding that Congress pass an extension.
"Families are counting on us to get this done," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).