U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury called renewing the federal Child Tax Credit an equity issue during a press conference on Thursday.
The federal Child Tax Credit, which provided $3,000 per child between ages 6 and 17 and $3,600 per child under 6 the last six months of 2021, was a measure within the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The average Child Tax Credit payment per household was $444 in December according to a U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee report.
Democrats are now seeking to renew and extend the federal Child Tax Credit through the Build Back Better Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in Nov. by a vote of 220–213, along party lines, but the bill has stalled in the U.S. Senate which is more evenly divided.
Related: State and federal child tax credits improve equity for children of color in the state
According to the Senate report, families spent their Child Tax Credit on things such as rent and mortgage payments, utility bills, food, school supplies, clothing and child care.
A few young mothers spoke in Spanish through an interpreter during the press conference about what the federal Child Tax Credit has meant for them and their families. Las Cruces resident Jennifer Guereca said she has three children and her husband hasn’t been able to obtain steady work since the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that at one point during the pandemic, she was working 55 hours a week in a restaurant to try to make ends meet. She said that because of the Child Tax Credit, she has been able to stay home and take care of her children.
An Albuquerque resident, Biby Gaytan, said she was working through her pregnancy until she contracted COVID-19. She said her husband also lost work during her illness. She spoke of the difficulties of not being able to pay rent and utilities but also of the stress she and her husband endured when he did resume work again and had to work long hours to manage bills on his salary alone while she stayed home to care for their newborn. Gaytan, who moved to the U.S. two years ago, said she was not able to receive the federal relief.
“This tax credit would really help alleviate some of the stress and the obligations we have,” she said.
Stansbury, who said she was raised in Albuquerque by a single mom, said she understood what low-income families are going through.
“I know what it’s like to work hard every day and still struggle to make ends meet,” she said.
Stansbury said the Child Tax Credit is “one of the largest single-year tax cuts for families that this country has ever seen.”
Stansbury also said the bill is an equity issue and that it would help to “level the playing field for our working families.”
“I think it’s clear that so many of our working families were already struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic. The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on working families in terms of job security and the ability of families to provide support like childcare and the strain it’s put on our everyday household expenses and continuing to pay for food and utilities and things like that,” she said.