Last week, President Biden signed into law historic anti-poverty measures as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Now, Senate Democrats are pushing to make the temporary provisions from the American Rescue Plan into permanent fixtures.
The law gives most families a $3,600 tax credit for each child under age 6 and $3,000 for children aged 6 to 17. “Though framed in technocratic terms as an expansion of an existing tax credit, it is essentially a guaranteed income for families with children, akin to children’s allowances that are common in other rich countries,” wrote the New York Times’ Jason DeParle. Columbia University researchers project that the provision could cut child poverty in half. In its current form, the provision lasts only a year.
Yet even before the stimulus package was signed into law, some Democrats voiced support of extending the benefit indefinitely. Speaking on MSNBC on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed, “I’ll do everything I can to make it permanent.” He added, “That’s one of the most important things we can do. We can change America, if we make them permanent.”
The stimulus package also expands the federal nutrition program for low-income women and children, enhancing monthly vouchers for fruits and vegetables from $9 for children and $11 for women to $35 for both. In a press conference on Sunday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called for the increases to be extended indefinitely.
Gillibrand previously called to permanently extend another provision, which expands sick leave benefits for workers. “One of my goals is to make paid leave permanent,” she told Yahoo Finance. “We are still the only industrialized country in the world without access to paid leave and most workers do not have access.”