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Reports: Double child tax credit payment possible if bill passage delayed, Psaki says

Congress is facing a reported Dec. 28 deadline to pass an extension of the credit that estimates say has helped millions out of childhood poverty.

If monthly child tax credit payments are delayed at the start of 2022 due to the $2 trillion social and environmental bill being stalled in Senate negotiations, parents may get a double payment in February if the measure passes, the White House reportedly said Friday.

"If we get it done in January, we've talked to Treasury officials and others about doing double payments in February as an option," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said aboard Air Force One, according to multiple reports.

The enhanced child tax credit, which offers low- and middle-income parents $250 (for children 5 and under) or $300 (for ages 6-17) every month as an advance on their 2021 tax return, was passed in March as part of COVID-19 relief. Estimates are that it reduced child poverty as much as 40% and lifted 4.1 million children above the poverty line.

A double payment would make that $500 to $600 per child, depending on age.

The final payment of the year went out Wednesday and the measure expires on Dec. 31. A one-year extension is inside the Build Back Better bill that passed the House last month but is stuck in limbo in the Senate. 

With no Republican votes to count on, President Joe Biden and Democrats need all 50 of their senators to be on board. But Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V. is a holdout. Reports this week indicated Manchin has expressed concern over the enhanced child tax credit's inclusion in the bill, something Manchin has denied.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has cited the IRS in saying that Dec. 28 is the deadline to pass Build Back Better in order to ensure the next scheduled child tax credit payment goes out on Jan. 15. 

But Biden appeared to acknowledge Thursday that swift passage of the bill is unlikely, although he vowed it would pass eventually.

Wyden suggested this week that a standalone bill just to extend the enhanced child tax credit may be an option.

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