New York Rep. Ritchie Torres gave a Bronx cheer Wednesday to a proposal from President Biden to only temporarily extend a popular pandemic-era child tax credit, warning that the watered-down request would cause a “colossal” setback in the war against poverty.
The first-term Democrat, who represents a chunk of the south and west Bronx, said on the House floor that the tax credit — which was implemented as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package — should be made permanent, not just extended through 2025, as proposed by the president.
“Allowing the child tax credit to expire in 2025 is a colossal misjudgment whose consequences we could live to regret,” Torres said. “We cannot and should not be the party that cuts child poverty in half only until 2025. We should and must be the party that champions a permanent breakthrough against child poverty.”
A White House spokesman did not return a request for comment on the unusually forceful criticism from the New York Democrat.
The child tax credit extension is expected to be part of the so-called “American Families Plan” that Biden hopes to unveil in the coming weeks.
Biden’s coronavirus rescue bill, which he signed into law last month, boosted the standard child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 per child between ages 6 and 17 and $3,600 for kids under 6 for 2021.
The president has touted that the credit could cut childhood poverty in the U.S. in half this year, when combined with other aspects of the rescue plan.
Still, a source briefed on the matter told the Daily News that Biden suggested in an Oval Office meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Tuesday that he wants to keep a 2025 cap on the credit because he believes that will give him a better chance at attracting support from Senate Republicans.
Ultimately, Biden will likely need support from GOP senators to get his family-focused plan through Congress.
But Torres said Biden should fight harder for making the tax credit permanent and suggested it could become a key part of his presidential legacy.
“We are in danger of inexplicably putting an expiration date on our own legacy,” he said on the floor. “Did FDR put an expiration date on Social Security? Did Lyndon Johnson put an expiration date on Medicare? Why should we put an expiration date on the Social Security and Medicare of our own time? I urge President Biden to make his greatest achievement a permanent legacy.”