Bennet Joins Senators Booker and Brown on the Senate Floor to Champion Child Tax Credit Expansion, Call for Permanence

VIDEO: Watch Bennet’s Speech HERE

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet spoke on the Senate floor with U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) about the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments that will begin to reach families tomorrow and the need to make this policy permanent. 

“...I've said on this floor before that it's long past time we started treating America's children like they're our children. And that we wouldn't accept the conditions that so many kids live in, unless we thought they were someone else's children,” said Bennet. “The poorest population in America are children. And we have some of the lowest economic mobility of any country in the industrialized world. We tell ourselves we're the land of opportunity, but we haven't looked like that for a very long time, and the policies that have been passed here haven't helped. And that's where the Child Tax Credit comes into being.”

Bennet continued: “...This should just be the beginning of creating an economy that, when it grows, grows for everybody, not just the people at the very top. And that strengthens our democracy by giving everybody a sense that they've got a real stake in the economy, and that their kid's going to be able to live a brighter life than the life they live. That's what it's supposed to be to be in America.”

“And so I am grateful to stand here today with my two colleagues and with the presiding officer to say finally, finally, with this president, we are treating America's children like they are America's children,” said Bennet. “And we don't have to accept chronic childhood poverty as a chronic feature of our economy or our democracy.”

In March, President Joe Biden signed into law a one-year expansion of the CTC, based on Bennet’s American Family Act, in the American Rescue Plan Act. In his American Families Plan, Biden proposed permanent, full refundability of the CTC and an extension of the Rescue Plan’s CTC expansion through 2025.

Bennet continues to work with the administration and his colleagues in Congress to ensure the entire CTC expansion is made permanent. 

Bennet’s full remarks as delivered are available below.

I want to say on this floor , how much I love my colleague from New Jersey and from Ohio who are here with me today on this floor to celebrate this incredibly important milestone. And I love you for your commitment to the country and for your commitment to our kids. 

I want to wish your brother well, because I know that he is recovering from his stroke and you're still taking time to be here on the floor to make sure that people that need it most hear about this tax credit, and I want to thank you for that.

I've heard the senator from Ohio, just like the senator from New Jersey, talk about the lives of real people in their states. You know, I've sat in the chair where the presiding officer is, listening to Senator Brown talk about families in Ashtabula, Zanesville, or Dayton, or Cleveland, or Cincinnati, or Toledo and what the policies that we pass in this body either the difference they make or very often the difference they don't make to real people at home, to the people that you work for and represented in Newark.

I think about a mom say to my colleague from Colorado, the presiding officer, a mom in Rifle, Colorado who was in an early childhood center there, and she was so happy to be there. The other moms were happy to be there too, because until they had that early childhood center, they had to drive 30 miles through Glenwood Canyon to get to Glenwood Springs to put their kid in daycare so they could work, and now they could actually have it in their community. But what she said to me was that, “I work, so I can have health insurance, and every single dollar I make goes to paying for this early childhood center, so I can work.” 

It's that triangle that so many Americans are caught in because we have had an economy that for 50 years, has worked really well for the top 10% and not for anybody else in America. And for too long, it seemed like Washington wasn't paying any attention to that. I mean, what was our solution to that? To spend $5.6 trillion on two wars in the Middle East that lasted for 20 years to come to this floor to cut taxes not for working people, not for the people that needed it, but for the wealthiest people in the country at a time when our income inequality was higher than it was in any time since before the Great Depression? 

It made no sense. It was like if the mayor of Denver, who the presiding officer used to be so let's just imagine that for a second, it’s as if the mayor of Denver said to the people of Denver, “We are going to borrow more money than we've ever borrowed before,” and I'd say as a concerned citizen of Denver to the mayor, “That worries me, I'd like to know what you're spending it on. Are you spending on parks?” Nope. “Mental health services because we certainly need those in our [community]?” Nope. “Homeless?” Nope. “Our roads and our bridges?” No. “Schools?” No.

“You're borrowing all this money. What are you spending it on?” And the mayor would have said, “Well, I'm going to give the money that we're borrowing to the two richest neighborhoods in Denver and expect that somehow it's going to trickle down to everybody else.” That sounds crazy, but that was the Bush tax policy. 

That is the Trump tax policy, 65% of that bill that he called middle class went to the top 5% in America. And that's why this is such a new day.

And I've said on this floor before that it's long past time we started treating America's children like they're our children. And that we wouldn't accept the conditions that so many kids live in, unless we thought they were someone else's children. 

This country, as the senator from New Jersey has said before, this country is 38th out of 41 industrialized countries in terms of childhood poverty. In other words, we have the 38th worst childhood poverty in the industrialized world. Only three countries are worse than we are.

The poorest population in America are children. And we have some of the lowest economic mobility of any country in the industrialized world. We tell ourselves we're the land of opportunity, but we haven't looked like that for a very long time, and the policies that have been passed here haven't helped.

 And that's where the Child Tax Credit comes into being. We increased it to $3,000, $3,600 for kids under the age of six. We made it fully refundable so the poorest kids, the millions of poor kids who've never benefited from the tax credit before -- because their parents made too little money -- now have the benefit of it, and it's going to be paid out starting tomorrow on a monthly basis. So when families are making decisions about how to pay the rent, put a little food on the table, buy a few hours of daycare so that they can stay at work and earn a living -- they'll be able to do it. So they can work, as the senator from Ohio so eloquently says, with dignity.

And in my view, this should just be the beginning of creating an economy that, when it grows, grows for everybody, not just the people at the very top. And that strengthens our democracy by giving everybody a sense that they've got a real stake in the economy, and that their kid's going to be able to live a brighter life than the life they live. That's what it's supposed to be to be in America.

And so I am grateful to stand here today with my two colleagues and with the presiding officer to say finally, finally, with this president, we are treating America's children like they are America's children, and we don't have to accept chronic childhood poverty as a chronic feature of our economy or our democracy. 

We can have an ambition that's greater than that for our country and for our children, and we can say to our kids, “You're important to us. In some ways, you're all that matters to us. And the position we put you in to be able to get an education and contribute to the society and help lead the country, participate in our economy and our democracy, that that's our priority, that that's what we care about.”

And I think that's President Biden's priority and he's reflected it incredibly well in this policy. And I'll turn it over to the senator from Ohio just by saying, now we have to do the very hard and important work of making this a permanent part of our tax code so that we cut childhood poverty permanently in half in this country. 

I'd like us to end childhood poverty in the United States myself. I think that'd be a very worthy aspiration for all of us to have. And with that, Mr. President, I yield the floor to my wonderful colleague from Ohio who has been an incredible leader from a time even before I was in the Senate.