House Democratic leaders are getting ready to put forward a proposal that would see millions of families with children get additional direct cash payments as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The measure that seeks to reduce child poverty would provide a $3,600-per-child allowance for children under the age of six and $3,000 per child for those between the ages of six and 17.
The amount of money each family receives would start decreasing after an income threshold of $75,000 per year for single parents and $150,000 per couple. The benefit would be given out in monthly installments starting in July. The Washington Post was first to report the news after seeing a copy of the 22-page bill that is set to be unveiled on Monday.
The new legislation is being led by Rep. Richard Neal, the lawmaker from Massachusetts who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. But it comes mere days after Sen. Mitt Romney surprised lawmakers by putting forward a similar proposal to boost cash transfers for people with children. “The pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating,” Neal said in a statement. “We are making the Child Tax Credit more generous, more accessible, and by paying it out monthly, this money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table.”
Although the proposal spearheaded by Neal would only make the benefit available for one year, Democrats say the goal would be to make it permanent further down the line as part of a broader effort to fight child poverty. The United States has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the developed world, a phenomenon that has only worsened with the coronavirus pandemic. But it is still far from clear whether there would be enough Republican support to make that happen amid opposition from some in the GOP because the benefit would go to both working and nonworking Americans. “Of all the policy issues being discussed this Congress, of all the things we are working on, the biggest impact we can make for economic justice in our country — and enact measurable transformational change — lies within this policy that would slash child poverty,” said Sen. Cory Booker.