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Democratic lawmakers not giving up on child tax credit, betting on Manchin's support

Manchin told reporters on Tuesday that he is "not a part of any organized discussions" about the child tax credit.
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Editor’s Note (May 2, 2022, 10:42 a.m. ET): NBC News has determined that two passages in an earlier version of this article — one about the child tax credit payments and another about Sen. Joe Manchin’s opposition to the credit — were not properly attributed to their original source and did not meet our standards for original material. The passages have been removed from the article.

WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday said they are not giving up hope on extending the child tax credit, hedging their bets that they can win over Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a key holdout.

"Senator Manchin has not slammed the door on this," said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., during a news conference Tuesday. "We know over the last six months that people have spent the money the way we said they were going to spend the money, which was to buy groceries, to pay for rent, really importantly to pay for child care so they could stay at work."

The news conference was held as a part of the Biden administration's outreach campaign to get millions of families to file their taxes so they can receive the second half of payments from the expanded child tax credit, which has helped keep families across the country afloat during the pandemic.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said she has sent material to Manchin answering the questions that he has had and "we're not, you know, throwing in the towel on this."

"We want the partnership of all of the Democrats and Senator Manchin and answering the questions, she continued. "And again, the data over and over again supports some of the issues that he had concerns about and we're going to keep at that and the American people are going to keep at that as well."

But Manchin told reporters on Tuesday that he is "not a part of any organized discussions" about the child tax credit.

On the 15th of each month, parents who signed up received payments of up to $300 per child under age 6 and $250 per child ages 6 to 17. Within weeks of the first payment in July, 55 percent of middle-income families spent their payments on food, more than 26 percent spent it on clothes, and 23 percent spend it on costs related to school and after-school programs, according to data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

One concern of Manchin's that Democrats say they can't satisfy is people who don’t work receiving benefits. Manchin has told reporters that any expanded child tax credit should include a work requirement, and he floated an income limit (“$75,000 or less”) in an interview with a West Virginia radio station. He also privately raised concerns that parents would use their child tax credit payments to buy drugs, three sources familiar with the comments told NBC News in December.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., refuted the proposal of work requirements, highlighting the tax cuts signed by then-President Donald Trump in December 2017.

"It's interesting to me in these policy arguments the double standard that gets put forward and no one even challenges it," he said. "What are the work requirements for the tax cuts given to the richest of the rich in 2017? Where are those work requirements?"

However, Bennet said Democrats might consider lowering the income threshold, though he did not specify a number.

"I think we would all agree that we'd all be comfortable with the income level being lower than it has been, I certainly would," he said.