By Jason Lemon
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, over his support for expanding child tax credits under former President Donald Trump while he now opposes Democrats’ efforts that would expand them even further under President Joe Biden.
The 2017 Republican tax cuts doubled the existing child tax credits. Democrats then temporarily increased child tax credits further under the American Rescue Plan approved in March, and began sending out the payments monthly. Through the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation proposal, these increased tax credits would be extended.
While Barrasso supported the child tax credits as part of Trump’s signature tax cut legislation, the GOP senator now opposes the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that would improve them further. Wallace pressed Barrasso on the issue during a Sunday interview on Fox News Sunday.
“As part of the Trump tax cuts in 2017, you voted to increase the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000. Now, as part of this bill, the Democrats would extend that to 2025 at a higher level,” Wallace explained. “And the fact is that your state of Wyoming is one of the states that benefits most from the increase in the child tax credit. Why oppose that?”
Barrasso responded by pointing to his concerns about the broader $3.5 trillion package. The Wyoming Republican called it “a massive bill.”
Wallace then interjected. “Forgive me sir, but I’m asking about this specific part of the bill. I understand there are parts that you don’t like. For instance—I guess part of the question is, could you have worked with them on this child tax credit? Which you voted for in 2017, that’s one of the things that you’re voting against now. Why oppose that specific program?”
The GOP senator said that lawmakers have to “look at the entire bill and say if you’re for the bill or you’re not.” The Wyoming lawmaker went on to complain that Democratic lawmakers have not been “coming to talk to Republicans on any of these things.”
Later in the interview, Wallace pressed Barrasso over the provision to expanded childcare and fund universal pre-kindergarten through the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package: “In the state of Wyoming, less than a quarter of children [ages] three to four, which is who would be covered in the bill, are enrolled in publicly funded preschool—less than a quarter. Wouldn’t a lot of Wyoming families benefit from universal pre-k?”
Barrasso admitted that “there are a number of things that will help the people of Wyoming” in the bill. But he insisted that “overall, Joe Biden’s policies have been hurting the people of Wyoming.”
Newsweek reached out to Barrasso’s press representatives for further comment but did not immediately receive a response.
The $3.5 trillion reconciliation package proposed by the White House and Democratic leaders would provide funding for universal pre-kindergarten, extend the popular child tax credits, make two years of community college free for all Americans, expand medicare access, work to lower the cost of prescriptions drugs and address climate change, among other priorities. But Republicans in Congress unanimously oppose the Democratic legislation.
Democrats turned to the budget reconciliation process when it became apparent that they would not receive any GOP support for the bill. Due to the Senate‘s legislative filibuster rule, most legislation requires at least 60 votes to pass in the upper chamber of Congress. With an evenly split Senate—50 to 50—Democrats turned to the budget reconciliation process, which allows for passage with a slim majority. Vice President Kamala Harris, the president of the Senate, can cast the final decision on tied votes.
But moderate Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have expressed opposition to the high price tag of the reconciliation bill—leaving its passage in doubt. Manchin said last week that he’d be supportive of a substantially smaller $1.5 trillion reconciliation bill and President Joe Biden later reportedly told lawmakers that the final package may be closer to $1.9 trillion or $2.2 trillion.