Thanks to the work of passionate advocates like you, major recovery legislation is quickly moving through Congress—legislation that would invest heavily in children, families, and the economy. Congress is using a special procedure, known as budget reconciliation, that would allow the legislation to pass with just 51 votes in the Senate, avoiding a filibuster.
Where Things Stand
In August, Congress passed a budget resolution, which laid the framework for the final recovery bill. The resolution included key FCNL priorities, including a pathway to citizenship for almost 11 million immigrants; provisions to address the climate crisis through a clean electricity standard and clean energy tax incentives; big investments in housing assistance, childcare, and paid family and medical leave; and tax credit expansions that could cut child poverty in half.
With the budget framework passed, congressional committees are now furiously working on the legislative text.
With the budget framework passed, congressional committees are now furiously working on the legislative text, with members of Congress making critical decisions about what these policies will look like.
One area where we’ve made real progress is with the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Many members of Congress have signaled support for permanently expanding these tax credits. This would be deeply beneficial, as expanded tax credits have already had a tremendous impact on families.
In fact, from August 2020 to August 2021, food insecurity dropped from 13.7% to 10.2%, largely thanks to these expansions.
Causes for Concern
Even with this promising groundwork laid, however, there are some causes of concern.
Firstly, there is immense pressure on lawmakers to find funding for the entire package. Members of Congress could do that by raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, but they’re facing extensive lobbying efforts from the business community. If these changes to make our tax system fairer aren’t made, important priorities that we have fought for might be cut out.
If the package is made any smaller, very difficult decisions will have to made about what is included.
The second problem is budget constraints. The package is currently set at $3.5 trillion—but this is a ceiling, not a floor. Indeed, some moderate senators, like Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), are uncomfortable with the current price tag.
This is alarming because even at $3.5 trillion, it will be difficult to get many of the priorities we care about into the package. If the package is made any smaller, very difficult decisions will have to made about what is included, how long certain provisions should last, and how much funding will be provided.
For the expanded Child Tax Credit, this could mean a steep drop in benefits after just a couple years. It would also put full refundability in jeopardy. (Full refundability means that families who owe little or no federal tax will get a check for the full amount of the Child Tax Credit.)
Time for Action
These concerns put advocates in a precarious position, as margins in the House and Senate are razor-thin. If even a small handful of lawmakers balk at the price tag, this historic bill could fall apart.
To prevent this from happening, we must keep up the pressure on our members to do the right thing and support this package in its entirety—especially important provisions like the expanded EITC and CTC.
Contact your lawmakers today and urge them to support a robust recovery package.