Manchin's Child Tax Credit stance is criticized back home

WASHINGTON (AP), -- The controversy surrounding Sen. Joe Manchin's refusal to endorse the Biden administration’s expanded child credit program is spreading through West Virginia.

Manchin's Child Tax Credit stance is criticized back home

Manchin, a moderate Democrat is among the last to block President Joe Biden’s huge social and environmental package, dubbed The Build Back Better Act. Manchin, a West Virginia senator, has voiced concerns about several aspects of the $2 trillion package. He also questioned the continuation of Child Tax Credit.

As part of pandemic relief legislation earlier this year, the expansion boosted parents' monthly payments and expanded eligibility. Advocates say the immediate effect was felt in West Virginia, which is one of the poorest states in the country.

Kelly Allen, executive director at the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy said that "there is no state more affected by the CTC." "West Virginia was not doing well before the pandemic," said Kelly Allen, executive director of West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. This is why this is so important now and long-term."

According to Treasury Department figures, 181,000 West Virginia families received CTC payments on Dec. 15. They reached 305,000 children and cost $446 on average. If the Biden package isn't passed in the next few hours, those payments could be ended this month.

A coalition of West Virginia organizations has been lobbying Manchin since the local end. They emphasize the ground-level stories about families that benefited from the expansion.

Jim McKay, TEAM for West Virginia Children, stated that "We're hearing about it from every corner." "This program really has a profound effect in a positive manner."

Allen stated that there are 50,000 West Virginia children at risk of falling into poverty if payments are not made on time or negotiations drag out long enough that the Jan. 15 payment is not made. One fifth of West Virginia's children are estimated to be living in poverty, and 93% of West Virginia's children are eligible for CTC payments. This is tied for the highest rates in America.

Allen stated that "Households in the state would struggle to meet their basic needs." There is a real need right now to ensure that families don't go hungry.

Biden, facing a united Republican opposition, is trying to pass only the package with Democrats, as the House has done. The path through the 50-50 Senate, which is evenly divided, is much more difficult. There is no room for dissent. Biden is currently in negotiations with Manchin, who seems to be the last obstacle to Democrats passing the bill before Christmas.

A person speaking on condition anonymity described Wednesday the rocky state of the Biden/Manchin talks. According to the person, Manchin wanted to end the bill's renewal for expanded benefits under the Child Tax Credit, which is a keystone of Democratic efforts in reducing child poverty.

Manchin said Wednesday to reporters that he doesn't want to remove the child tax credit improvement. He told reporters that he didn't back the elimination of one of the child credit credit improvements. Monthly checks are sent to millions of families and Manchin responded, "I'm certainly not negotiating with anyone of you."

A group of West Virginians met outside the Manchin's office, Charleston, last month to present him with a quilt adorned with personal testimonials from CTC recipients, detailing how the payments have improved their lives.

Rick Wilson, American Friends Service Committee participant in the demonstration said that "it's a major life-changer." People are claiming they have paid off their debts, kept the lights on or bought or repaired their cars so that they can go to work.

Research suggests that the expansion of child tax credits will reduce child poverty by 40%. 9 out of 10 American children are likely to benefit from these changes. According to the analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 4.1 million children could be lifted above poverty line.

According to the Washington University in St. Louis Social Policy Institute, 52% of CTC recipients spent their money on food and 39% went towards clothing or other necessities for their children.

Allen of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy said that the CTC money does not only benefit the recipients families. The cash is immediately used in the community because few people are able to save it. She estimated that $530 million worth of CTC funds had been transferred into West Virginia's economy.

She said that families spend money they get in their pockets in stores like grocery stores, clothing shops, and child care centers. "Households are aware of what they need, and they spend it in a responsible way than most people would believe."

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