WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's now- $1.85 trillion plan to boost social and education programs as well as protect against global warming continues to be fine-tuned by Democrats in Congress with a new goal of completing work before Thanksgiving. Indications were it could be voted on in the House by Friday, sending it to the Senate.
One provision tens of millions of American families likely want to know is whether the expanded child tax credit, implemented in July, will continue into 2022. As part of a COVID relief bill, Democrats increased the tax credit to $3,000 per child age 6-17 and $3,600 per child 5 and under. Households earning up to $150,000 per year get the credit paid to them on a monthly basis.
As of Thursday night, the provision was still in the bill -- at least for one more year. Budget hawks worry that a one-year extension is a budgetary tool that will lower the cost of the program on paper, but mask its true costs since lawmakers tend to continue programs rather than let them expire.
The bill also continues, for one year, the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit that goes to 17 million childless, low-wage workers.
Other measures aimed at parents in the bill:
- Universal prekindergarten would be established for all 3- and 4-year-olds and child-care subsidies for poorer and middle-income Americans. But the programs are funded only for six years.
- Parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income should pay no more than 7% of their income on child care. Parents must be working, seeking a job, in school or dealing with a health issue to qualify.
- Eligible workers would receive up to four weeks of paid leave to reimburse them for time taken to care for a new child, or other family members or recover from illness. Biden had initially proposed 12 weeks of paid family leave.
- $150 billion toward housing affordability with a goal of building more than 1 million new rental and single-family homes. The goal would be to reduce price pressures by providing rental and down payment assistance.
Democrats are scaling back some other investments and shortening the timeframe for funding to whittle down spending. Some proposals have been dropped entirely.
The framework fits an approximately $1.85 trillion budget over 10 years, rather than the $3.5 trillion budget plan originally envisioned.