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White House considering double payments in February to make up for expected lapse in expanded child tax credit

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily news briefing in the James Brady Room at the White House on Tuesday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily news briefing in the James Brady Room at the White House on Tuesday. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

The White House is considering doubling the size of February payments to an estimated 35 million families with children to compensate for payments that likely won’t be made in January as the result of congressional inaction on President Biden’s economic agenda.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday that the move is under consideration given that Biden’s Build Back Better legislation is no longer on track to pass by the end of the year.

The legislation includes an extension of an expanded, retooled child tax credit, which Democrats approved this past spring as part of their sprawling coronavirus relief package.

Lawmakers grew the size of the benefit, ensuring lower-income Americans could claim it fully on their taxes and allowed parents for the first time to collect the money in the form of monthly checks.

Biden says resolving differences on $2 trillion spending package could take ‘weeks’

The final authorized checks were distributed on Dec. 15. Without congressional action, checks will not be provided in January.

Psaki told reporters traveling on Air Force One with Biden that the White House would like to see action on Biden’s larger economic agenda in January, allowing for the double payments the following month.

“If we get it done in January, we’ve talked to Treasury officials and others about doing double payments in February as an option,” Psaki said, adding that passage of the legislation should be a priority “as soon as Congress returns.”

Psaki’s comments came a day after Biden issued a statement saying he would continue to negotiate over his Build Back Better agenda “over the days and weeks ahead,” an implicit acknowledgment that it would likely not be passed by Congress by the end of the year, as Democrats have hoped.

Biden is seeking a roughly $2 trillion package to overhaul the country’s health care, education, climate, immigration and tax laws.

In his statement, Biden said discussions remain ongoing with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), a key swing vote in the chamber who has expressed sustained concern about the size and scope of the economic package.

“Notwithstanding the unrelenting Republican obstruction — not a single Republican is willing to move forward on the bill — I am determined to see this bill enacted into law, to give America’s families the breathing room they deserve,” Biden said.

Tony Romm contributed to this report.