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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is seen during a Senate vote in the Capitol on Thursday, March 25, 2021. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Working West Virginia Mothers Like Me Need Joe Manchin to Support Child Tax Credits

These credits represent food in the mouths of the state's most vulnerable children.

Becky Dillon

I struggle to make ends meet, whether it's a utility bill or groceries, every month is an unpredictable fight to stay financially afloat. Thankfully, the American Rescue Plan expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for struggling Americans like myself during COVID-19 and alleviated some of these burdens.

But now, Senator Joe Manchin is standing in the way of preserving this financial relief for millions of families in need.

Taking this money away from West Virginia families is stripping us of our lifeline.

Senator Manchin and many of our sitting members of Congress may not know the cost of living off the top of their head, but I do. These are the numbers that keep me up all night and Senator Manchin is attempting to take away this much-needed relief. When my job and my daughter's schooling went online over a year and a half ago, the transition wasn't easy. Like many other families across the state, I had to juggle higher internet costs, larger electricity bills, and managing my ten-year-old daughter's schooling on top of my own work.

Nationwide, over 80 percent of parents like me used their CTC payments toward basic living expenses. I used the funds toward my rising utility bills and necessities like groceries. After I drained my emergency funds during the economic turmoil of the pandemic, I started saving a portion of my CTC money every month to be able to invest in a healthy future for my daughter again. 84 percent of West Virginia children also benefited from these payments. Around the country, CTC kept approximately 3 million children out of poverty in just its first month.

Recognizing this, Congress recently unveiled a transformational budget plan that would keep these payments going, as well as make the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) permanent. Despite the positive impact this support has had on West Virginians and the health of our economy, Sen. Joe Manchin has come out against the proposal, looking to put more restrictions around who deserves this critical aid.

These payments are not luxuries. Taking this money away from West Virginia families is stripping us of our lifeline. These credits represent food in the mouths of the state's most vulnerable children. This money is the important difference between being able to pay for medicine or keep the heat on in the winter.

SaverLife, a nonprofit that helps families build lifelong saving habits, knows that extending the CTC can end extreme poverty—and cut child poverty in half. The long term effects of preserving these payments could create economic mobility for millions of families. In West Virginia, prior to receipt of the payments, 11.6 percent of adults in households with children reported food insufficiency Two weeks after those payments were finally in the hands of starving families, that number had declined to 8.4 percent.

Think of what we could do if we kept this change going. Imagine a West Virginia where no child has to go to bed hungry, where parents are empowered to create good lives for their families.

If all West Virginians who are eligible could have access to the expanded CTC, 346,000 children would benefit, and a staggering 50,000 would be lifted above or closer to the federal poverty line. Around the country, the economy could recover and flourish. Following a devastating pandemic, American families would prosper and thrive.

We elected Senator Manchin to represent our best interests. Our communities and West Virginia's children are counting on you, Senator Manchin, to do the right thing and support extending CTC and EITC payments.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Becky Dillon

Becky Dillon is a West Virginia resident.

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