More than 450 advocacy groups from across the issues spectrum—including child advocates, faith organizations, racial justice groups, labor unions, climate and environmental advocates, immigrants’ rights organizations, and care economy groups—sent a letter to senators urging them to pass the Build Back Better Act and extend the Child Tax Credit before leaving for the holidays, or risk throwing nearly 10 million American children below the poverty line or even deeper into poverty.
The Build Back Better Act would invest heavily in child care, preschool education, paid parental leave, resources to address climate change, education and housing stabilization and more.
The letter comes as tens of millions of families wait for the next, and potentially final, Child Tax Credit payment on December 15.
Without urgent Congressional action, 65 million children could lose out on the benefit.
Prominent signers include Economic Security Project Action, Children’s Defense Fund, Climate Power, the League of Conservation Voters, NRDC, Service Employees International Union, Caring Across Generations, Coalition on Human Needs, American Federation of Teachers, Real Recovery Now!, National Urban League, National Women’s Law Center, Real Recovery Now, Mi Familia Vota, Immigration Hub, Public Citizen, Indivisible, MoveOn, NAACP, Unidos US, and Main Street Alliance.
The letter highlights the transformative nature of the Build Back Better Act, which in addition to the CTC and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), includes paid leave, home and community-based services and child care, affordable housing, climate action, environmental justice, universal pre-kindergarten and college assistance, relief for immigrants, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
“When the Build Back Better Act reaches the Senate floor, we strongly urge Senators to reject all amendments including those that would weaken the racial equity impacts of the Child Tax Credit,” the groups wrote in a letter to all 100 senators.
“The Senate must not recess until this critical legislation is passed,” they added.
The version of the Build Back Better Act that the House passed last month would extend the monthly payments for one year, and permanently make the child tax credit fully available for the lowest-income families.
Parents with children under the age of six receive $300 a month per child under the program, and $250 a month for each child aged six to 17.
Unless Congress acts, however, the last monthly payment will be made Dec. 15.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told reporters last week that the Internal Revenue Service has advised that Congress pass the legislation by Dec. 28 to ensure that the monthly payments are distributed on Jan. 15.
The signatories wrote that approving the Build Back Better Act would provide a “historic opportunity” to lessen childhood poverty and continue supporting “the most vulnerable children,” especially those that are part of Black and Latino families.
They also said the bill “makes the most significant investments in climate and environmental justice in history and makes transformative improvements in our nation’s care infrastructure.”
Senate Democrats are looking to pass the spending package through budget reconciliation, which would buck a potential Republican filibuster by only requiring a simple majority vote for passage.
All 50 Senate Democrats, however, are not yet on board. Moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have both not said if they will back the bill. Manchin has raised concerns about the size of the legislation and questioned how it could affect inflation, which is currently close to a 40-year high.