West Virginia Women Unite To Pressure Joe Manchin On Biden Agenda

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A group of mothers from West Virginia showed up at the U.S. Capitol this week to push for members of Congress from their state — including Sen. Joe Manchin (D) — to support continuing the expanded child tax credit that was in place last year but didn’t continue into 2022. As part of the COVID-19-tied economic recovery package that Democrats enacted early last year, the maximum amount of the credit was increased, and authorities began sending out the credit across once-a-month payments instead of families having to wait to receive the tax-related benefits when filing their yearly taxes. Additionally, the earnings requirement associated with the tax credit was also temporarily eliminated, meaning that individuals without reported income could receive the benefits.

A further expansion of the tax credit, keeping the broadened benefits going into 2022, was included in the Build Back Better Act — but Manchin wouldn’t support it. Democrats could have passed it without GOP votes, but the Senate’s party breakdown is close enough that every Democratic Senator had to be onboard. As explained by HuffPost, the West Virginia mothers who stopped by the Capitol “spoke about how the monthly benefit alleviated their daily hardships: high heating costs, medical emergencies and their kids’ schools going virtual.” And yet, Manchin has consistently refused to unequivocally support the payments, which helped better the lives of millions of children — while the money lasted. Amy Jo Hutchison, one of the West Virginians who were present, said that “using our children as scapegoats, pushing them back into poverty after offering them a hand up, is not only unacceptable, it’s unbearable and un-American.”

The West Virginian mothers who went to the Capitol met with aides to Manchin. According to HuffPost, “the mothers didn’t come away with a clear idea of what Manchin wants ― except that he does want the tax credit out of Build Back Better.” Megan Hullinger, another one of the mothers, indicated that “what we were told is that he may support a standalone expanded [child tax credit] under certain conditions.” She also explained some of the specific, real-world expenses that could be covered by the payments, sharing: “Gas prices have gone way up, which of course means my heating cost has gone up… Utilities have gone up. We had to pay for enough bandwidth to cover all my kids through their Zoom and everything else during school.”

Stormy Johnson, another West Virginia mom, commented similarly, explaining how she was “trying to figure out how I’m going to take care of my kids and provide for my kids, while still making sure that they’re not stressed because they’re worried about me, because they know that I’ll go without.” These comments put Manchin’s obstruction in perspective. He is failing while presented with an opportunity to provide real help to people — including some of his own constituents — who need it.