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John Fetterman speaks at an event

Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman delivers an introduction for Governor Tom Wolf during an inaugural ceremony on January 15, 2019 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Fetterman Calls for Permanent Expansion of Enhanced Child Tax Credit

"It's an embarrassment that we allowed this program to expire," said Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a progressive U.S. Senate candidate.

Jake Johnson

Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a progressive U.S. Senate candidate, voiced support Friday for permanently boosting the Child Tax Credit after research showed that Congress' failure to extend the enhanced benefit caused child poverty to spike in January.

"Washington needs to be helping working families across the country, making their lives easier," Fetterman said in a statement. "The Child Tax Credit did just that, and it's an embarrassment that we allowed this program to expire."

"If I were in the Senate, I would have proudly and swiftly been that 51st vote to make the Child Tax Credit permanent months ago."

"The Senate failed to act, and now nearly four million more children are living in poverty as a result," Fetterman continued, citing new figures from the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University. "This program was a major, major boost to families across the commonwealth and across the nation. It's just common-sense policy. If I were in the Senate, I would have proudly and swiftly been that 51st vote to make the Child Tax Credit permanent months ago."

Fetterman's campaign noted that he has supported permanently expanding the Child Tax Credit since July, when the first round of monthly payments went out to millions of families nationwide.

"To me," Fetterman said at the time, "it is a no-brainer that we need to make the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent and finally put an end to child poverty in this country."

In November, the U.S. House passed legislation that would have extended the boosted Child Tax Credit for another year, but the bill died in the evenly divided Senate after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he would vote against it.

A key sticking point for Manchin was reportedly the Child Tax Credit payments, which the West Virginia senator claimed—without a shred of evidence—were being used by parents to buy drugs.

Recent efforts by some Democratic lawmakers to revive the enhanced Child Tax Credit have gone nowhere.

According to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, the results of letting the highly popular child benefit expire in December have been disastrous.

"The monthly child poverty rate increased from 12.1% in December 2021 to 17% in January 2022, the highest rate since the end of 2020," the center noted. "The 4.9 percentage point (41%) increase in poverty represents 3.7 million more children in poverty due to the expiration of the monthly Child Tax Credit payments. Latino and Black children experienced the largest percentage-point increases in poverty (7.1 percentage points and 5.9 percentage points, respectively)."

Fetterman is currently the frontrunner in the Democratic primary race to fill the U.S. Senate seat that will be left open by the retirement of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

According to a Data for Progress poll released earlier this month, Fetterman holds a 30-point lead over Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), his closest Democratic rival in the primary contest.

Fetterman also has a substantial fundraising lead over Lamb and other Democratic candidates in the Pennsylvania Senate primary. In the fourth quarter of 2021, Fetterman's campaign brought in $2.7 million from 100,000 donations averaging $27 each.

Lamb's campaign reported raising $1.3 million in the final months of 2021, less than half of Fetterman's haul.

"Our impressive grassroots fundraising has made clear that John has unrivaled and deeply enthusiastic grassroots support across the commonwealth," Rebecca Katz, founder of New Deal Strategies and an adviser to Fetterman's campaign, said last month.

"It is no secret that 2022 could be a difficult year for Democrats," added Katz. "John is a unique candidate who has deep, enthusiastic, and engaged support, the kind of support Democrats need in 2022 if they are going to turn this seat blue."

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