The U.S. House passed legislation this week enhancing the Child Tax Credit - a move that could help hundreds of thousands of lower income New Yorkers.
Roughly 887,000 New York children under 17 years old who are currently left out of the full $2,000 credit stand to benefit, according to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Many lawmakers from the Big Apple are applauding the legislation. Meanwhile some argue it should go further.
The bill, which received wide bipartisan support, is not as generous as the previous expansion, which was implemented during the first year of the Biden administration as part of the pandemic response.
That credit, which congressional Democrats ushered through, nearly cut the child poverty rate in half. But the enhancement was only temporary, and when it lapsed at the end of 2021, child poverty skyrocketed.
Since then, lawmakers like Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres have been outspoken in demanding the expanded tax credit be reinstated and made permanent. He joined colleagues in introducing legislation to that effect.
Torres’ district ranks among the poorest in the country.
“The Child Tax Credit is to families with children what Social Security has long been to senior citizens: It is a powerful safety net for the most vulnerable people in our society,” Torres said.
Overall the enhancement included in the House-backed bill, while falling short of the pandemic-era change, is estimated to benefit 16 million children in low-income families nationwide in its first year.
“The biggest change will be for families with more than one child. It'll be a change for families that have seen their income fluctuate from one year to the next,” said Jean Ross, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
The House bill couples the changes to the Child Tax Credit with three tax breaks for businesses, giving both sides of the aisle policy wins heading into November’s election.
Torres said that while the bill falls short of what he would like, it is the best possible outcome in a divided government, and stands to have a big impact back home.
But the fight to do more, he argues, continues. “This is not an expenditure, this is an investment,” he said.
The plan still needs to clear the U.S. Senate, where some Republicans are looking to hit the brakes, pointing to concerns about the plan’s cost.
Some have even openly expressed worry about giving President Joe Biden a re-election boost.