Last-Ditch Effort to Save Dems’ Child Tax Credit

Last-Ditch Effort to Save Dems’ Child Tax Credit

By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Friday, September 9, 2022

Cheers to all of us for making it through the week. A new king made his first appearance in the UK today, the Justice Department and former president Donald Trump’s legal team tussled over the role of a “special master,” and Major League Baseball announced some new rules for next season, including a pitch clock and larger bases.

Here’s what else is going on.

Democrats Eye ‘Hail Mary’ Effort to Revive Their Child Tax Credit

The White House and some Senate Democrats are reportedly eyeing a “Hail Mary” effort to revive their enhanced child tax credit this year.

Hans Nichols of Axios reports that the White House has engaged Senate Democrats about the idea and may be willing to back renewing some expired corporate R&D tax credits in exchange for Republican support.

The background: The enhanced child tax credit was enacted by Democrats in March 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan. It expanded eligibility for the credit and upped the amount families could get from $2,000 per child to $3,000 or $3,600, depending on the age of the child. The credit, which included automatic monthly payments, was credited with lifting millions of children out of poverty. But the credit expired at the end of 2021 in the face of opposition from Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). The credit was left out of the Inflation Reduction Act that Democrats passed last month.

What’s happening now: The 2017 Republican tax overhaul required companies to deduct their research and development expenses over five years as of 2022. There’s bipartisan support for revising that requirement and allowing companies to keep immediately deducting those expenses rather than spreading them out. Democrats hope that provides some leverage to renew the child tax credit.

"I think we should not be extending tax cuts for American corporations if we're not going to extend tax cuts for American children," Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado told Insider. And Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told the site: "I cannot imagine the Senate will give big tax breaks to big companies and to wealthy people without taking care of kids first.”

Some Republicans may be open to a modified version of the child tax credit. “In response to the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, some Republican senators, including Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), have been floating pro-family policies, including a cheaper and less expansive version of Biden's child tax credit,” Axios notes. But at least 10 Republican votes would be needed in the Senate.

The bottom line: Any potential action on a tax package will have to wait until after November’s elections.

Manchin’s Energy Reforms Could Trip Up Stopgap Funding Bill

Democratic leaders say they intend to include permitting reform for energy infrastructure projects in the stopgap funding bill that needs to pass before the end of the month, but dozens of House Democrats say they will not support the measure championed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The inclusion of the reforms, which would make it easier for companies to win approval for energy projects, was reportedly offered to Manchin to gain his support for the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden last month.

Manchin has pushed the bill as part of an effort to advance the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 304-mile gas pipeline that would run through his state but has faced repeated delays, due in part to permitting issues. The permitting bill, which is backed by fossil fuel producers and interest groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, would help speed not only that specific project but other energy projects around the country as well.

But the reforms are opposed by environmental groups and many liberal Democratic lawmakers, who say they will make climate change worse. Among other things, the bill will make it harder to oppose energy infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)) on Thursday slammed the measure as “a huge giveaway to the fossil fuel industry” that would offset the climate measures included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

In a letter to Democratic leadership Friday, 72 House Democrats asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to leave the reforms out of the stopgap funding bill that lawmakers hope to pass before October 1.

“The permitting and public notice and comment provisions mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) are among the only tools local communities have to force careful review of federal projects that may have serious, long-term, environmental, and public health consequences in those communities,” the House Democrats wrote. “Congress should continue to provide increased funding to assist federal agencies in completing the NEPA process but attempts to short-circuit or undermine the law in the name of 'reform' must be opposed.” [emphasis in the original]

Risk of a shutdown: The dispute over the permitting measure raises the odds that lawmakers will be unable to agree on a funding bill before October 1, and without that bill, the government will shut down at the end of the fiscal year. Although the permitting measure is being included as a reward of sorts for Manchin, some House Democrats say that’s not their problem. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), for example, told The Hill that he has no “obligation” to vote for the measure since he never agreed to the deal with Manchin.

Still, the funding bill could pass even if opposed by a number of Democrats, since some Republicans are expected to back it. “Despite the chorus of opposition from progressive lawmakers and activists, however, the stark political reality is that Democratic leadership plans to attach the permitting bill to a stopgap funding measure, giving it a good chance of passing,” says The Washington Post’s Maxine Joselow.

Quote of the Day

“They ain’t got no shame.”

– President Joe Biden slamming Republicans that he said were taking credit for new bridges and roads being built with funding from the infrastructure bill they opposed. “The truth is there are a lot more Republicans taking credit for that bill than who actually voted for it,” Biden said during a Thursday speech at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee. The bipartisan infrastructure law passed the Senate with support from 19 Republicans but got only 13 GOP votes in the House.

The Cost of Congress’s January 6 Committee

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol has spent more than $3 million so far this year, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan of Punchbowl News report, based on recently released quarterly disbursement records.

The exact total: $3,317,373.81, the vast majority of which has gone toward personnel.

The committee reportedly employs 57 people and paid $1.6 million in compensation last quarter. Compare that to the House Judiciary Committee, a permanent standing committee which includes staffers from both parties,” Sherman and Bresnahan write. “Judiciary spent $1.8 million on staffing during the same period.”

The House Ways and Means Committee, for additional context, spent more than $2.5 million last quarter and $4.8 million so far this year.

The January 6 committee reportedly also has spent more than $600,000 in each of the last two quarters on outside consultants and services such as transcription, digital forensics and private investigators.

The committee, which Punchbowl says may be “the most expansive investigation in congressional history,” is expected to hold another hearing this month. Punchbowl reports it will hold a retreat next week to discuss its next steps.

The bottom line: The committee’s operations and expenses may be sizeable, but protecting U.S. democracy is priceless.

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