House to vote on major tax bill to expand child tax credit and business breaks

Washington — The House is set to vote Wednesday on a tax bill that would expand the child tax credit and some business tax breaks, in what would be a rare and long-sought bipartisan victory amid divided government. 

Known as the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024, the legislation would bolster the child tax credit, aiming to provide relief to lower-income families. Though it’s more modest than a pandemic-era enhancement of the credit, which greatly reduced child poverty and ended in 2021, Democrats have pushed to resurrect the assistance and generally see the move as a positive step.

The legislation would make it easier for more families to qualify for the child tax credit, while increasing the amount from $1,600 per child to $1,800 in 2023, $1,900 in 2024 and $2,000 in 2025. It would also adjust the limit in future years to account for inflation. When in full effect, it could lift at least half a million children out of poverty, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 

The bill also includes some revived tax cuts for businesses, like research and development deductions. Those provisions make it more palatable to congressional Republicans, who have appeared reluctant to back the expansion of the child tax credit and give the Biden administration what it would see as a major win in an election year.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, a Missouri Republican, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, unveiled the agreement earlier this month, touting the “common sense, bipartisan, bicameral tax framework that promotes the financial security of working families, boosts growth and American competitiveness, and strengthens communities and Main Street businesses.

GOP Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, departs a meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept 14, 2023.
GOP Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, departs a meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept 14, 2023.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“American families will benefit from this bipartisan agreement that provides greater tax relief, strengthens Main Street businesses, boosts our competitiveness with China, and creates jobs,” Smith said in a statement.

The House is moving to vote on the legislation under a procedure known as a suspension of the rules on Wednesday, opting to fast-track the bill with a floor vote that requires the backing of two-thirds of the chamber. The maneuver avoids a procedural vote that has proved troublesome in recent months. 

House conservatives have on multiple occasions in recent months blocked a vote to approve the rule for a bill, which is typically needed before the full chamber can vote. The move has made the GOP House leadership’s job of steering legislation through the chamber increasingly difficult, enabling a small group of detractors to effectively shut down the floor at their discretion.

On Tuesday, a group of moderate New York Republicans employed the tactic, blocking a rule vote in protest of the tax bill lacking state and local tax deductions. But the impasse seemed to quickly dissipate after the group met with Speaker Mike Johnson. 

Johnson said he supported the legislation in a statement Wednesday morning.

“The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act is important bipartisan legislation to revive conservative pro-growth tax reform. Crucially, the bill also ends a wasteful COVID-era program, saving taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. Chairman Smith deserves great credit for bringing this bipartisan bill through committee with a strong vote of confidence, and for marking up related bills under regular order earlier in this Congress,” he said. “This bottom-up process is a good example of how Congress is supposed to make law.”

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