The House of Representatives, as expected, voted Thursday to pass legislation that would expand the Child Tax Credit so that it includes lower-income taxpayers in the form of a refundable tax credit. The Senate voted for a similar bill earlier this week. But the comparison ends there.
The Senate bill is a no-frills addendum to the recent large tax cut that was signed into law, expanding the Child Tax Credit and this summer's rebate program to lower-income taxpayers for two years and providing funding for the $10 billion provision through customs fees. The House bill is an $82 billion tax cut that is unfunded.
Republican House members rallied around the opportunity to expand the child credit to make the $1,000 credit permanent through 2010 and also provided tax breaks for members of the military and families of astronauts who die in space missions. The House voted 224-201, largely along party lines, to support the measure.
On Wednesday the Children's Defense Fund organized a rally at the nation's Capitol where hundreds of flag-waving mothers toting toddlers in buggies descended on the office of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), calling for support for the Senate version of the bill.
House Democrats who fought to get the House to consider the increase to the Child Tax Credit nonetheless voted against the measure when faced with a bill that costs $82 billion. "The Republicans give new meaning to the biblical phrase, 'suffer the little children,' " said Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House Democratic leader, arguing that lower-income families deserve the refundable credit.
Republican Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) countered, "It's not a credit, it's someone else's money. If we want to turn our income tax code into a welfare system, let's be honest with the American people that's what we are doing."
The House and Senate will now try to reach agreement on a bill they can both pass. President Bush has indicated he is eager to mobilize the new tax credit provision so that rebate checks can still be provided this summer.