Bill aims to give more freedom to families through better financial support in the forms of tax credits. Can it gain traction?
“Starting a family and raising children should not be a privilege only reserved for the wealthy,” Hawley said in a statement on Monday. “Millions of working people want to start a family and would like to care for their children at home, but current policies do not respect these preferences. American families should be supported, no matter how they choose to care for their kids.”
Hawley’s bill aims to give more freedom to families to decide whether one or both parents should work full-time. The freshman senator’s proposal would give the fully refundable benefit to parents who hit a minimum earnings requirement of $7,540, which translates to 20 hours of work per week at the federal minimum wage. The legislation allows for the same earnings threshold for single and married parents and creates a “marriage bonus.”
Hawley’s plan would deliver payments via the IRS and instruct the agency to create an online portal for families to input information. Families could also opt out of the monthly payments for a lump sum when they file their federal taxes.
Hawley had teased the legislation on Saturday.
“We need a plan to help working parents that is pro-family and pro-work. I’ll be proposing legislation this coming week that gives a major tax cut to working parents to help them afford to start a family and raise their kids,” he wrote on Twitter.
Hawley’s announcement comes as many Democrats push for increased benefits for families with young children.
Until this year, families could claim up to $2,000 a child as a tax credit, but millions of low-income households missed out on the full benefit because their earnings were too low to qualify.
But the benefits drastically increased under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Democrats passed in March and extended the full credit to the poorest of families. Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., successfully fought to increase the amount of tax credit, make it fully refundable and to authorize advanced payouts of the benefit.
It’s now worth $3,600 for each child up to age 6 and $3,000 for older children up to age 17. Eligible families should start seeing payments in July of up to $300 per child, but the new benefit only lasts a year. Torres and other Democrats are now pushing for a monthly child allowance on a permanent basis.
Hawley isn’t the only Republican interested in pro-family policy.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney proposed permanent monthly payments to American families Thursday as the country struggles with declining birth and marriage rates and the coronavirus pandemic’s stranglehold on the economy.
The Utah lawmaker and former GOP presidential nominee’s Family Security Act calls for $350 monthly payments per family, per child, for children age 5 and under. Children between the ages of 6 and 17 would warrant $250 payments instead.
“American families are facing greater financial strain, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and marriage and birth rates are at an all-time low,” Romney said in a statement. “On top of that, we have not comprehensively reformed our family support system in nearly three decades, and our changing economy has left millions of families behind.”