On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, President Biden will address a joint session of Congress. He is expected to tie much of that address not only to his recent proposal on infrastructure but also on a second-piece family plan. While not a state of the union address, the opening speech by a new President has become as much of a tradition as the annual joint session usually given in January.
This “American Families Plan” with the infrastructure proposal released in March and the White House overview of the FY 2022 appropriations released earlier this month provide the new Administration’s full platform for this year and maybe next.
The infrastructure is paid for, at least in part, by tax increases on business by repealing some of the Trump tax cut. This new family measure is expected to include further repeals in some of the Trump tax cuts for wealthier people and couples and will also include tax credits. Of most importance to CWLA, this package will include an extension of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). According to various leaks and news reports, the other major pieces include approximately $225 billion for child-care funding; $225 billion for paid family and medical leave; $200 billion for universal prekindergarten instruction. CWLA has supported the CTC, the child care expansion, and the family and medical leave for decades.
Other parts of the package, which in some areas, will blend with upcoming FY 2022 appropriations, are also critical to child and family wellbeing. This includes dramatic increases in K-12 spending with the 2022 budget request seeking a record $20 billion increase in the elementary and secondary education fund. As part of the new family plan, the Administration is expected to seek tuition-free community colleges across the country (a potential big lift to current educational vouchers for children and youth exiting foster care). The Administration’s full line by line appropriations request may be delayed into late May or June.
As far as the debate over the CTC, one key detail will be how long the Administration will propose. Some reports indicated that it would be a CTC that would extend for five years. Key Congressional Democrats, including Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA), and Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CO), want it to be made permanent. The actual decision could be forced by the limitation of budget reconciliation rules, limiting how long tax cuts may run. Sometimes such tax policy is limited because of a desire to restrain the actual cost.
This has been the case with some previous tax cuts because proponents believe such tax cuts would be too popular to let expire in the future. In response to some news reports the CTC would be for five years, Brown, Bennet, and DeLauro said in a statement late Monday: “Congress has a historic opportunity to provide a lifeline to the middle class and to cut child poverty in half on a permanent basis. … Permanent expansion of CTC will continue to be our priority.”