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We took a major step towards a more just and equitable nation last month. On Nov. 19, after various delays, the House passed the Build Back Better Act (H.R 5376).

The House version of this transformative legislation extends the expansions to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit for one year, measures that could cut child poverty nearly in half. It also makes the CTC fully refundable so that all families can receive the credit, regardless of income level.

Beyond those life-changing provisions, this sweeping bill would also:

  • Invest in increased access to pre-K, childcare, and paid family and medical leave.
  • Provide funding to increase housing vouchers and build and improve public housing.
  • Ensure that no one is left behind when it comes to healthcare by closing the Medicaid coverage gap.
  • Invest hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy and addressing the climate crisis.
  • Provide critical protections for undocumented immigrants.

Notably, this bill would be paid for by raising revenues on wealthy individuals and corporations.

Many Republicans and even some Democrats have pushed for work requirements for the Child Tax Credit, which would prevent families with little to no income from claiming the credit.

With the House’s vote, attention now turns to the Senate—but there will be no easy path for passage in that chamber. One major concern is the possible introduction of bad amendments. When a bill comes to the Senate floor, it goes through a process known as “vote-a-rama,” in which senators can present an unlimited number of amendments with no advance notice.

Many Republicans and even some Democrats have pushed for work requirements for the Child Tax Credit, which would prevent families with little to no income from claiming the credit. This could have major consequences; Allowing families with little or no income to claim the full Child Tax Credit is the single biggest driver of the huge drops in child poverty associated with the expanded credit.

Of the 4.1 million children already lifted out of poverty by the Child Tax Credit expansions, 3.6 million were able to do so because parents with little or no income could claim the full value of the credit. If we truly want to reduce child poverty and enhance racial equity, then lawmakers must not add work requirements.

Another concern is the possible introduction of anti-immigrant amendments. There will be attempts to prevent immigrants from claiming the Child Tax Credit and other assistance programs. Other changes could be made as the Senate works to ensure that immigration provisions adhere to the bill’s procedural requirements.

Bottom line: There will ultimately be some edits to the House-passed bill to get the necessary 50 votes in the Senate. The major question is how significant those changes will be. Once the Senate passes their own version, the bill will go again to the House for a final vote.

Without congressional action, the last expanded Child Tax Credit checks will go out on Dec. 15

The timing is urgent. Without congressional action, the last expanded Child Tax Credit checks will go out on Dec. 15, leaving families vulnerable just ten days before Christmas.

Just prior to the House vote, more than 450 FCNL advocates took part in a virtual lobby day through our Annual Meeting and Quaker Public Policy Institute. They met with roughly 200 congressional offices representing 44 states to urge passage of the Build Back Better Act. Your voice helped carry this vital legislation forward.

With your help, we can do it again, and help extend expanded tax credits that have already led to more than 3 million fewer adults living in households with kids reporting food insecurity. Urge your senators to quickly pass the Build Back Better Act and to vote against any harmful amendments!

People: Abibat Rahman-Davies

Abibat Rahman-Davies

Domestic Policy Associate
Abibat Rahman-Davies is FCNL’s domestic policy associate. As a part of the domestic policy team, she supports the legislative director and domestic policy team’s efforts to change government policy and practice for the better.