Democrats hoping to pass their Build Back Better social spending and climate package by the end of the year are beginning to panic, as continued disagreements with party moderates Sen. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema threaten to leave more than 35 million families without monthly payments of up to $300 per child starting December 15th.
"We are not going to have a lapse in payments. That’s too important," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Yet, what Brown can't control is whether Manchin and Sinema will sign off on the massive $1.9 trillion social spending package, which Manchin has repeatedly suggested hitting the brakes on until inflation is under control. He has also previously suggested work requirements and lower income limits for the expanded child tax credit.
Manchin also says that a lapse in the CDC could be made up for at a later date.
"I've never seen a situation where we weren't able to make up whatever you thought time would be lost."
Votes from Manchin and Sinema are critical, as Senate Democrats use an arcane process known as budget reconciliation - which requires a simple majority of 51 votes - to circumvent the filibuster. This means that all Senate Democrats will need to back the legislation or it will fail, as The Hill notes.
The US Treasury and IRS in July began sending out monthly advance child tax credit payments of up to $250 for each child ages 6 to 17, and up to $300 for each child under age 6, subject to reductions as incomes rise.
Biden's social spending package includes a one-year extension of the expanded credit program.
And according to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), the IRS says that Congress needs to pass the package by Dec. 28 in order to continue uninterrupted payments on January 15.
"We've got to work very hard and move quickly because of some of the logistical challenges that the IRS has in terms of the process, and I'm committed to getting it done," said Wyden. "I'm pulling out all the stops to make sure that there is no interruption."
Perhaps one of the stops includes a standalone bill?
"Could you get 10 Republican votes for it? I don't know the answer to that," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) of the prospect of a standalone - which would obviously need to pass via reconciliation as well.
Democrats view the monthly child tax credit payments as a key way to help low- and middle-income families afford key household expenses.
“Our view is that the child tax credit is a really important, basic support for families and that we should extend it,” National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said during Thursday’s White House press briefing. “And we should extend it because it's doing what we hoped it would do, which is dramatically reduce child poverty in America, dramatically reduce poverty in America, and give families some breathing room in a very strong but uncertain recovery.”
Additionally, a lapse in the monthly payments could pose a political risk for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections. -The Hill
According to Ethan Winter, lead pollster for the Fighting Chance for Families coalition which seeks to make the CTC permanent, "If you allow the benefits to lapse, I do think this would present a political liability for the Democratic Party."