WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., had privately raised concerns in recent months that parents would use their child tax credit payments — a key part of the Build Back Better legislation — to buy drugs, three sources familiar with the comments said.
Manchin relayed the concerns in private conversations with his fellow Democratic senators, the sources said.
Manchin also raised private concerns with congressional colleagues that Americans, specifically West Virginians, would abuse paid leave time and use it to go hunting during deer season, two sources familiar with his comments said.
HuffPost was first to report on Manchin's remarks.
Manchin said Sunday that he could not vote for the sweeping safety net and climate change package, puncturing hopes for its passage. He defended his decision in a radio interview Monday, saying he was at his “wits' end” in negotiations with the White House. He didn’t specify what the final straw was.
Manchin had previously said he would support separate legislation to extend child tax credit payments, but such a bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, which Democrats control by only a slim margin.
“Senator Manchin has made clear he supports the child tax credit and believes the money should be targeted to those who need it most," a spokeswoman said Monday. "He has also expressed support for a paid leave program that has a dedicated, sustainable funding mechanism.”
The American Rescue Plan, which was enacted in March, expanded the child tax credit by $3,000 from $2,000, with a $600 bonus for children under age 6, for the 2021 tax year. The first half was delivered from July to December in monthly payments of $300 for children younger than 6 and $250 for those ages 6 to 17. The second half will be delivered when families file their 2021 tax returns next year.
The administration has delivered nearly $93 billion to families since the first payments were distributed in July, according to the Treasury Department. When the administration sent out the final checks of 2021 last week, they were distributed to the families of about 61 million eligible children as part of the sixth monthly payment.
Studies have found that the expanded tax credits have lifted millions of children out of poverty and that parents have used the checks for essential items. The Treasury Department, for example, said data show that parents have spent the money on purchases like food, clothes and school-related expenses.