Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, January 16, 2024 — Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-MO) today announced a bipartisan tax proposal that includes key improvements to the Child Tax Credit (CTC). FRAC is pleased that lawmakers have responded to ongoing calls from anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates to expand the CTC, which played a key role in dramatically lowering poverty and hunger for millions during the pandemic.
Under this proposal, approximately 16 million out of the 19 million children currently excluded from the full or any CTC will benefit, and an estimated 400,000 children will be lifted above the poverty line.
The expanded and fully refundable 2021 CTC was a saving grace for families during the pandemic, helping them cover household needs — from putting food on the table to handling housing expenses, debts, child care, and even making up for lost wages. Unfortunately, this critical expansion expired after 2021, leaving millions of families scrambling. The newly announced proposal includes essential improvements that support families with children, though it falls short of the comprehensive improvements that were made through the American Rescue Plan Act 2021 CTC expansion.
The unwinding of the 2021 CTC and other critical pandemic interventions, coupled with rising costs, has disproportionately affected households with children and those of color, leading to a significant rise in hunger and poverty. Households with children reported a 25 percent increase in not having enough to eat after the 2021 CTC expansion ended. Expanding the CTC, and centering households with low incomes in the proposal, is a crucial step toward addressing growing hardship. It would not only provide immediate relief but also contribute significantly to fostering more equitable outcomes in health, nutrition, and housing.
It’s time for Congress to guide the nation back on the path to combating poverty and extend support to families with the lowest incomes who struggle to meet their basic needs. Inaction is not an option.
FRAC supports this plan and urges Congress to quickly pass this bill. In the long term, FRAC looks forward to working with lawmakers to finish the job, including by making the CTC fully refundable.
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.