In addition to stimulus checks, President Biden’s stimulus package also provided a refundable expanded child tax credit that will provide millions of families with up to $3,600 per child in financial support. The benefit begins to phase out for single tax filers with adjusted gross incomes of $75,000, and for joint filers at $150,000. Parents of over 83 million children will benefit, and President Biden has suggested it would cut child poverty in half.
But the American Rescue Plan only provided this expanded child tax credit for one year. Congressional Democrats are looking to make it permanent. More than three dozen Democratic senators wrote to President Biden urging him to extend the refundable benefit. “We must not allow these critical expansions to expire after one year,” they wrote. “Doing so would result in a significant spike in child poverty, after we have made historic strides to end it.” The White House has expressed openness to making the child tax credit permanent, and may include this in upcoming proposed legislation designed to support American families and workers.
Student Loan Forgiveness
Student loan borrower advocates and progressives have been mounting a pressure campaign to convince President Biden to enact widespread student loan forgiveness of up to $50,000 through executive action. This level of student loan forgiveness could wipe out the student debt of 84% of student loan borrowers.
Biden has been resistant to using executive authority for this purpose, however, and he previously rejected the notion of $50,000 in student loan forgiveness. But the administration is considering its options. Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced that Department of Education lawyers will be exploring potential legal authorities that could be the basis for widespread student loan forgiveness implemented through executive action. The Department will coordinate its efforts with the U.S. Department of Justice, which is also reviewing possible legal avenues for student loan forgiveness using executive authority.
Free College And Increased Financial Aid
President Biden will be proposing a new economic stimulus package as soon as this month focusing on American students, workers, and families. The White House has indicated that it will be proposing free community college as part of this package.
In addition, Biden released a budget proposal last week that substantially increases funding for higher education and financial aid. The proposal would increase higher education funding by 41%. This would include $3 billion in Pell Grants and expanded eligibility for Dreamers, as well as an increase to the Pell Grant award limit. Pell Grants are a form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. The proposal also would increase funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
Investment in American Families
Biden’s recently-released infrastructure package is expected to be followed by the release later this month of another sweeping legislative proposal to invest in American families. While specific details are still sparse, the White House has suggested it would include subsidies for childcare, expanded healthcare subsidies, and paid family and sick leave, all of which would function as economic stimulus.
Of course, none of these proposals have become law yet. To succeed, most of these proposals will need to pass a closely divided Congress (the exception could be student loan forgiveness, if Biden determines he is able to act through executive authority). Democrats hope to finalize legislative proposals by this summer.
The President has expressed a desire for bipartisanship, but any legislation would require that at least 10 Republicans joint with Democrats in the Senate to overcome an expected filibuster. Democrats could try to bypass the filibuster and pass their legislation on a purely partisan basis through budget reconciliation, as they did when they enacted Biden’s American Rescue Plan. But moderate Democrats have expressed opposition to this, at least without first making genuine efforts at bipartisan compromise.