Democrats still hopeful Child Tax Credit makes it into final government funding package
But the popular provision faces an uphill climb due to fierce GOP resistance. Plus: Atlanta’s mayor on why the city is one that everyone in the nation has to watch and the latest on Brittney Griner.
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ICYMI: I was at the White House on Tuesday as Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law, a move that culminated a 10-year journey towards marriage equality for the president. Read my dispatch on the event and how the bill made it to Biden’s desk before the Supreme Court had a chance to overturn the rights to same-sex and interracial marriages.
First Things First
Let’s start with some professional news: I was approved a few weeks ago for congressional press credentials so I’ll be reporting Supercreator from the US Capitol full-time. It’s a huge achievement that will empower me to bring you closer to the legislative process and hold elected officials accountable to the needs of the creative class. I’m also hopeful that my accreditation will make it easier for independent reporters to break into other corridors of power that have been historically reserved for journalists from corporate news organizations.
In the upcoming months, I’ll focus my reporting on the new House Democratic leadership, the freshman class of House progressives — including the first Gen Z member of Congress, the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania, and the first woman and the first LGBTQ person to serve in Congress for Vermont — and how congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden plan to advance their legislative agenda now that Republicans control the House. Once President Biden officially announces his bid for reelection, I’ll also cover the campaign when I can.
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Programming note: This will be the final issue of Supercreator in 2022. I’ll be taking the next couple of weeks to unplug, enjoy the holidays and prepare for the new Congress, which starts on January 3. See you soon!
The Senate late Thursday night passed a stopgap measure to give lawmakers an additional week to finish writing the text for what’s known as an “omnibus” that would fund the government through the end of next September.
Democratic and Republican negotiators from the House and Senate hammered out a framework earlier this week that would increase defense spending by roughly 10 percent, boost domestic investments by eight percent and include additional funding for Ukraine aid and a provision that would reform the law that governs the process of casting and counting Electoral College votes for president and vice president.
But the bill excludes extensions of several corporate tax provisions that congressional Democrats hoped to trade in exchange for a re-up of the expanded Child Tax Credit, a provision in the American Rescue Plan that provided eligible families with monthly automatic direct deposits of $250 or $300 per child for six months last year. But Republicans have shown no interest in extending the CTC, imperiling one of President Biden’s signature economic policies weeks before House Republicans retake the majority.
“It’s unfortunate that the extreme MAGA Republicans on the other side of the aisle would rather use the tax code to benefit the wealthy, the well-off and the well-connected — that’s what they did when they passed the GOP tax scam where 83 percent of the benefits went to the wealthiest one percent,” Hakeem Jeffries, the incoming House Democratic Leader, said to me on Wednesday, referring to the 2017 Trump tax cuts. “In connection with our effort as Democrats to stand up for low-income families, working families and middle-class families, the extreme MAGA Republicans have a problem with the Child Tax Credit. That’s the difference between who we are as Democrats and who they are as Republicans.”
Critics of the CTC mischaracterize the policy as a government handout that pays people not to work, despite research showing that the benefit did not disincentivize employment.
“Last year we passed the largest tax cut for working families, ever. We know how hard parents work — at their jobs, and at raising kids,” Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said in a statement to Supercreator. “ And so often, that hard work doesn’t pay off like it should. These tax cuts have made such a difference in families’ lives. They must continue.”
A Democratic aide familiar with the omnibus negotiations told Supercreator that lawmakers are still fighting for it in the government funding package, a sentiment Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado echoed in a statement to Supercreator.
“ I am hopeful that we can get to a responsible, common sense agreement to expand the Child Tax Credit this year, and my priority is for any expansion to cover as many of the 19 million children who are left out of the current credit as possible in a meaningful way,” he said. “I have always believed that in the end this would be bipartisan and that my Republican colleagues would provide input, and I’m not going to give up fighting for it.”
When reached for comment, White House spokesperson Michael Kikukawa referred Supercreator to remarks from Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday that some sort of tax credit for children is the most direct way to include economic relief for working families.
“Our point is simple: No tax breaks for businesses without tax relief for working families and children,” she added. “And that’s where we’re going to continue to be on this.”
I caught up with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and asked if there’s anything else the White House can do to support the effort to make the CTC permanent.
“They’ve been super supportive. I’m grateful to them,” he said. “This is going to be a congressional fight and their continued support is important. But it’s ultimately one we’ve got to win here.”
During MSNBC’s coverage of the Georgia runoff election last week, Rachel Maddow described Atlanta as a “city [that] is a pulsing, throbbing heart of the country in terms of culture and ideas.”
It should come as no surprise that Democratic Mayor Andre Dickens of Atlanta agrees with that characterization, telling me that the city is one that everyone in the nation has to watch.
“We are the center of a lot of things from the history of civil rights, the bedrock of the civil rights movement, to now being right in the throes of what makes good decisions in terms of how our country is governed,” he said. “I’m glad that the nation got to see Atlanta. And it also shows that when Democrats make investments in Georgia, good things happen. We had to make a significant amount of investments to get that result that we had last [week].”
Now that Republicans will control the House in the next Congress, albeit, by a razor-thin majority, Dickens told me that the Biden administration would have to be forceful about it wants to do now and lean even more heavily on the Democratic Senate majority to make progress on some of the priorities on the Black agenda, including voting rights legislation and police reform.
“We have so much that they’ve already done,” he said. “So now mayors and governors, and all in between, have to go out there and deploy these resources. Now it’s about delivery upon things that have already been put in place.”
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In the Know
The text for the full omnibus is expected to be released on Monday and will be first taken up by the Senate. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has set a deadline for next Thursday for the Senate to pass the bill — as members, staff and reporters are antsy to get home to their families for the holidays.
House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer advised members that the earliest the House is expected to meet is next Wednesday and will stay in session until the omnibus is completed. (If the Senate passes the omnibus before McConnell’s Thursday deadline, Hoyer said that members will be given 24-hours notice before the Hosue will be called back to session.)
This expedited timeline has rankled conservative Republicans, who are broadly opposed to omnibuses in general because they feel the bills include too much wasteful spending and are jammed through at the last minute to prevent lawmakers from scrutinizing the text for provisions to cut from the final package.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, along with other Senate Republicans like Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida, say Congress should pass what’s called a continuing resolution into the first quarter of next year so the process isn’t so rushed and House Republicans can influence the final bill since they’ll be in the majority. But other lawmakers say it won’t be any easier to pass to an omnibus with a divided government than it is now so they might as well do it before the end of this Congress. (GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans did not participate in the framework that negotiators agreed to as the basis for the omnibus.)
“The Democrats and big-government Republicans will be offering you a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree in Washington is a bill that has something on it for everyone,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “You won’t know what it is until you get it. You won’t be able to read it until it’s done. But it will happen because the only thing that invariably happens in Washington is they will get together to spend money.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats would have liked to have done the omnibus much sooner and conceded that there was a better way to govern but seemed uninterested in looking back at what went wrong.
“The fact is we’re on a good path now to get something done. And again, it’s not the bill any of us would have written, but it’s the bill that we can agree to,” Pelosi said. “And we will have it done in a timely fashion so that we can honor our responsibility to protect and defend, that we can meet the needs of the American people and we can do so on time.”
HOUSE DEM LEADERSHIP
Speaker Pelosi on Thursday gave what could be her last press conference as Speaker and told reporters that her work to pass and save the Affordable Care Act is the legacy she wants her time in House Democratic leadership to be remembered for.
Brad Woodhouse, executive director of the advocacy group Protect Our Care, told Supercreator in a statement that Pelosi has done more to deliver affordable health care to American families than any elected official and the organization has been honored to work by the speaker’s side in the ongoing fight to make health care a right for every American.
“Tens of millions of people have health care and are living healthier and longer lives as a direct result of her leadership. The ACA has been a game-changer for working families, seniors, people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities,” he said. “Not only did she champion the Affordable Care Act, but she defied all odds and stopped the repeal of the law, taking back the House in 2018 and building on its achievements to deliver lower costs to millions of Americans this year.”
In related news, the Biden administration’s fix to the “family glitch” took effect this week, which will enable family members of workers who are offered affordable individual coverage but unaffordable family coverage to qualify for premium tax credits to buy ACA coverage.
Prior to the update, eligibility for assistance was determined based on whether the available employer-sponsored insurance is affordable for the employee instead of for the entire family.
The White House said in April when it proposed the rule to fix the family glitch that it would amount to the most significant administrative action to improve the implementation of the ACA since its enactment, providing relief for almost one million Americans and coverage for an estimated 200,000 uninsured people.
+ Regardless of age, lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual adults have consistently reported higher rates of symptoms of both anxiety and depression than non-LGBT adults during the pandemic, according to new data from the Census Bureau. Younger respondents, whether they are LGBT or non-LGBT, struggled more with both anxiety and depression symptoms, but younger LGBT respondents struggled the most.
Brittney Griner is still in San Antonio with her wife Cherelle and receiving the full suite of support options offered to her by the US government when she was released from her wrongful detainment in Russia last Thursday.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that the White House had no update on Griner’s condition other than to say that she’s in “good spirits and good health” and that the Biden administration has little visibility into her situation, a preference Kirby says it will maintain out respect for her privacy.
He added that the military is effective at administering the reintegration program Griner is currently in and that the focus is on continuing to provide the support she needs to make her transition as smooth and comfortable as possible.
The White House announced you can order a total of free four at-home COVID-19 tests to be mailed directly to your household as part of its strategy to make vaccinations, testing, and treatments available and accessible ahead of what public health officials predict will be a winter surge in cases.
The administration is paying for the tests with American Rescue Plan funding since Congress failed to provide additional resources in the omnibus for pandemic response and preparedness.
You can order your tests at COVID.gov/tests.
President Biden hosted the US-Africa Leaders Summit this week where his administration announced $55 billion in economic aid to African countries over the next three years, the appointment of a new special representative to implement the deliverables from the summit and US support for a permanent set for the African Union in the G-20, the group of the world’s largest economies.
“Our people lie at the heart of the deep and profound connection that forever binds Africa and the United States together,” Biden said during a toast at a state dinner he hosted for the leaders in the White House East Room. “We remember the stolen men and women and children were brought to our shores and subjected to unimaginable cruelty. My nation’s original sin was that period.”
Speaker Pelosi also received several heads of state from the delegations that attended the summit and said that the focus of any discussion with international partners is on security, the economy and governance.
The first US-Africa Leaders Summit was held in 2014 during the Obama administration.
The House on Wednesday passed the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act of 2022 by a vote of 264-162.
The bill, which represents a modest step in the broader push for comprehensive police reform, authorizes $34 million over four years for the Justice Department’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services to train and certify police officers and mental health professionals on crisis intervention teams to resolve mental health emergencies without excessive force.
The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent in August but it failed to clear the House under suspension of the rules, a fast-track process that requires a two-thirds majority.
The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
President Biden announced the delegation to attend the World Cup closing ceremonies in Doha, Qatar on Sunday. US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield will lead the delegation and be joined by US Ambassador to Qatar Timmy Davis, Democratic Rep. and co-chair of the Congressional Soccer Caucus Rick Larsen, Republican Rep. and co-chair of the Congressional Soccer Caucus Darin LaHood, National Security Council senior director for partnerships and global engagement Amanda Mansour and former US Men’s National Team Captain Claudio Reyna.
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