House Passes Child Tax Credit Expansion Bill Over Freedom Caucus Opposition

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Arjun Singh Contributor
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The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to expand the Child Tax Credit until 2025 despite some opposition from Republican members of Congress.

The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024” is a bipartisan bill negotiated between the Democratic-led Senate Finance Committee and the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee, which would reform and expand the credit until 2025. On Wednesday, the House voted to suspend normal rules and pass the bill by a vote of 357 yeas to 70 nays. (RELATED: ‘We’re Not At All Happy’: House Conservatives Slam Child Tax Credit Expansion)

“For the last three years, American families, farmers, workers, and small businesses have borne the brunt of inflation as they watched their paychecks shrink and their purchasing power diminish,” wrote Republican Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, in a press release on his website on Jan. 26. “Families will benefit from a Child Tax Credit that keeps work requirements at the heart of the program while guarding against the effects of inflation.”

“We’re not at all happy about the rather expensive further expansion of the child tax credit, which…by the way…wouldn’t rule out tax credits basically going to children of illegal aliens,” said Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas on Jan. 25. Some moderate conservative groups, meanwhile, also oppose the credit’s expansion, which they believe will expand the welfare state.

The bill would recalculate the tax credit on a “per-child basis,” and give parents a credit worth 15% of their income for each child. The bill would also raise the limit on the credit per child to $1,800 for the 2023 tax year from its current $1,600 threshold, after which it will increase every year by $100 until 2025 and will be adjusted for inflation.

This bill’s reforms to the Child Tax Credit, whose last expansion expired in 2022, have been controversial among different groups of conservatives. Populists in the House Freedom Caucus, for instance, have opposed the bill for its fiscal effect as well as the absence of any prohibition on money being received by foreign nationals unlawfully present in the country, but whose minor children may be U.S. citizens, making them eligible for the credit.

In exchange for expanding the tax credit, negotiators secured concessions on business taxes by allowing a firm to deduct business interest from its tax burden with regard to other deductions for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). The provision will last until 2026.

“Sixteen million kids from low-income families will be better off as a result of this plan,” wrote Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, upon the deal’s announcement. He added that “the improvements this plan makes to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit will build more than 200,000 new affordable housing units.”

“The Democrat knows he’s won the better end of the deal with a stealth welfare expansion of child tax credits,” wrote the conservative-leaning editorial board of The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “[T]his provision favors part-time work at the expense of the steady, full-time employment families usually need to move out of poverty. That is supposed to be the goal of the social safety net, not consigning families to government checks.”

In addition to Child Tax Credit reforms, the bill includes provisions for the United States to negotiate a bilateral tax agreement with Taiwan. It would also create deductions for persons who suffered from a train derailment near East Palestine, Ohio, in 2023 and for research and development expenditures, as well as impose a penalty on tax advisors who have helped companies understate their tax liability by claiming the Employee Retention Credit during COVID-19.

Some Republicans also had procedural objections to the bill’s consideration under a suspension of the rules, which congressional leaders have sought to do so the credit may be available to families before the 2023 tax filing deadline on Apr. 15. “It’s a problem that we continue to do things under suspension of the rules,” said Republican Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, to Politico. Others, particularly members of Congress from high-tax residential areas in New York and California, wanted the bill to expand state and local tax (SALT) deductions.

“There’s a lot of great policy in there. It’s not a perfect bill. We’re not going to get a perfect bill when we have divided government as we do,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson to reporters about the bill.

Smith and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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