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Where things stand with the monthly expanded child tax credit payments

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) leaves his office after speaking with President Joe Biden about his long-stalled domestic agenda, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Dec. 13.
J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) leaves his office after speaking with President Joe Biden about his long-stalled domestic agenda, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Dec. 13.

The next, and possibly final payment from the expanded child tax credit is set to go out Wednesday, Dec. 15. The program, which was passed in March as part of President Biden's American Rescue Plan, sends monthly checks to eligible families with children: up to $300 per month for every child under the age of six, and $250 per month for children ages 6-17. The amount phases down for families who have higher incomes. The payments started going out in July.

Studies have shown that the monthly payments have helped to significantly reduce child poverty and child hunger in the country. The White House says the program has the potential to could cut child poverty in half.

But because plans to continue the payments are tied to the president's Build Back Better social spending bill that remains stalled in Congress, it is still unclear whether the monthly checks will continue into the new year.

So where do things stand on Capitol Hill?

While the House has alreadypassed the Build Back Better bill last month, the legislation still needs to pass in the Senate before it can go to President Biden's desk for his signature.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he plans to put the Build Back Better bill up for a floor vote by Christmas, but the process still faces some serious hurdles.

Included in the legislation is a one-year extension of the CTC, which would need to pass by the end of this year in order for the monthly payments to continue into January.

If the legislation doesn't get passed until the beginning of next year, it's still possible for the payments to come retroactively. But advocates for the bill have pointed out that any delay will hurt families who have been relying on the credit for months.

What's holding it up from getting passed?

Democrats are still shy of the 50 votes they need to pass the Build Back Better bill in the Senate using the budget reconciliation process, which lowers the threshold needed to pass most legislation from 60. If they reach 50 votes in favor of the bill, Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote.

The chamber's 50 Republicans oppose the plan, and Democrats have yet to secure the support of two key holdouts in the party: West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema.

Sinema has been quiet about her specific objections to the bill, but has signaled support for the child tax credit in the past. Manchin, meanwhile, has repeatedly brought up concerns over the cost of the $2 trillion spending plan.

Manchin spoke with President Biden on Monday to talk through his concerns with the legislation, which he has said center around the effect its price tag will have on rising inflation.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.