Joe Manchin Takes on Progressives With Child Tax Credit Demand

Joe Manchin has reportedly targeted child tax credits as he looks to whittle down the cost of the Biden administration's proposed $3.5 trillion social spending bill.

Child tax credits, which formed part of the America Rescue Plan passed in March to help families through the pandemic, would be extended through the Democrats' proposal. But moderate Democrat Manchin wants it capped by household income.

Manchin told the White House that tax credit must include a work requirement and family income cap at about $60,000 a year, according to an Axios report citing sources familiar with the negotiations.

Such a demand would likely rile progressive Democrats frustrated by Manchin and fellow moderate Kyrsten Sinema's opposition to the scope and scale of the bill, known as the Build Back Better Act.

In the face of Republican opposition, the bill requires the support of every Democrat senator to pass; yet Manchin and Sinema have balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag and are hoping to force a reduction in spending.

Both sides are yet to agree on a final price tag to break the impasse. Representatives of Manchin have been contacted for comment.

Manchin has already secured victory in removing another central plank of Biden's agenda from the bill, according to a New York Times report citing congressional staffers and lobbyists.

Plans to rapidly replace coal and gas-fired power plants across the U.S. with wind, solar and nuclear energy are expected to be cut, following opposition from the senator who represents coal and gas-rich West Virginia.

Senator Bernie Sanders has publicly criticized Manchin for not supporting the switch to more environmentally friendly energy and greener jobs. In response, Manchin warned against "reckless expansion of government programs."

Manchin has also previously warned that the spending bill will not progress without the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions in most circumstances. Most Democrats are opposed to the amendment.

Joe Manchin leaves a luncheon.
Joe Manchin (D-WV) leaves a Democratic luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on October 7, 2021. The West Virginia senator has reportedly moved to curtail spending on child tax credits. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Negotiations will continue this week, with congressional lawmakers returning to Capitol Hill on Monday with only 10 legislative days to meet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's October 31 deadline to pass the multi-trillion-dollar spending bill.

That deadline also applies to a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has been approved by the Senate but still awaits sign-off from the House.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a group of about 95 Democratic members of Congress, has threatened to hold up the infrastructure bill until progress has been made with the social spending bill.

The CPC hoped the infrastructure deal would have gone further in tackling the climate crisis.