Statement: Children win with House passage of historic Build Back Better agenda
In response to today’s passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda by the House of Representatives, First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley issued the following statement:
“This once-in-a-generation legislation will transform the lives of our country’s children and the path of the nation itself. Children have endured decades of deferred maintenance on the care and services they need most. The provisions of this bill — extension and permanent refundability of the child tax credit, universal pre-school, affordable child care, better nutrition, paid family and medical leave, improvement of key children’s health programs — will vastly improve the health and well-being of our children. We implore lawmakers in the Senate to support this measure and bring these benefits to our children and our country.”
The House bill contains the following provisions:
- Child Tax Credit: Monthly payments of up to $300 per child would continue reaching nearly 90% of the country’s children through 2022. These changes to the CTC have helped slash child poverty. Critically important, the bill makes permanent full refundability, which will help support 26 million children previously left out because their families make too little. It also would restore the credit to ITIN filers as of December 31, 2021.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program: CHIP, which covers roughly 10 million children, would be made permanent, sparing it from serial expiration every few years.
- 12-month Continuous Eligibility: Would require states to provide 12-month continuous eligibility for children in CHIP and Medicaid to ensure kids no longer churn out of coverage. CHIP and Medicaid combined cover more than 40 million children.
- 12-months of Postpartum Coverage: Would guarantee 12 months of postpartum coverage for individuals covered under Medicaid, rather than the current 60-day benefit.
- Universal, free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds.
- Affordable, high-quality child care: Out-of-pocket expenses for most families would be limited to 7% of their income, with many families receiving free care, and the bill would increase the current low wages of the child care workforce.
- Greater access to school food benefits: Though the original $35 billion for nutrition has been pared back to just $10 billion, the legislation includes improved access to school meals year-round such as a nationwide extension of Summer EBT, which will stave off summer hunger for 29 million children.
- Earned Income Tax Credit: Lowers the age of eligibility for the EITC to 18 from 25 for former foster youth and youth experiencing homelessness without qualifying children, and drops the age to 19 for other adult, childless workers. The improvements also nearly triple the amount of the benefit, and are expected to reach an estimated 380,000 to 500,000 former foster youth.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave: A permanent paid family and medical leave program that provides 4 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child, a family member, and a worker’s own medical needs. The average worker would receive about 2/3 of their wages, with the lowest-income workers receiving about 90% of their wages.