More than 1.4 million families across Los Angeles started the new year with less money. For the first time in six months, monthly child tax credit (CTC) payments have not been paid as the Senate has yet to pass the House-passed Build Back Better Act.
The end of paying the child tax credit means some 634,000 families in the city of LA alone are struggling to make up the difference, especially as January draws to a close.
“You really run out of money at the end of the month,” said Democratic Congressman Tony Cardenas, who represents the northern San Fernando Valley. “They were able to pay their bills and pay their rent.”
According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the expanded CTC helped reduce child poverty by over 40% while lifting more than 4 million children out of poverty. According to Cardenas, monthly payments have helped 140,000 children in his district over the past six months.
“The fact is we have hard working families who barely make it. And now there are families who have to give up their jobs because their child is sick. It’s really complicated when you’re making it from month to month and these reviews have solved a lot of those problems.”
CTC payments were halted because the Senate failed to pass President Biden’s Build Back Better proposal.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has held up passage of the spending bill, saying he cannot support it unless changes are made, such as adding a labor requirement for parents. But Cardenas says he can’t get behind the Manchin version of the CTC.
“We haven’t made it a work requirement in the last six months. We lifted 40% of our children in America out of poverty. And we need to continue this big impact by making sure we continue like this for the next 12 months.”
Cárdenas also argues that including a work requirement in the renewed CTC program would disqualify countless families for financial assistance.
“We have grandparents who are retired and taking care of their grandchildren etc. There are far too many situations where we harm families instead of helping them.”
But Cárdenas says he’s open to an alternative to getting Manchin on board with the passage of “Build Back Better” by reducing the size of monthly payments to families.
“Maybe instead of $300 per child, it would be $250 per child. But we can do something where we can actually massage it a bit, but still make sure the kids don’t go hungry.”