McConnell was unnerved about Biden's child tax credit becoming too popular for the GOP to kill, book says

McConnell was unnerved about Biden's child tax credit becoming too popular for the GOP to kill, book says
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • McConnell was anxious the Biden child tax credit would be too difficult for Republicans to dislodge.
  • A book from two New York Times reporters reveal McConnell's unease with a key part of the stimulus law.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell never backed President Joe Biden's stimulus law, which passed with only Democratic votes early last year. But one of its social programs seemed to alarm him in particular.

McConnell was unnerved by the expanded child tax credit, according to a forthcoming book "This Will Not Pass" from a pair of New York Times reporters. Insider obtained it ahead of its May 3 release.

Shortly after the law's passage in March 2021, the Kentucky Republican privately confided to a friend that it was among the numerous social benefits that could prove too popular for Republicans to dislodge even if they regained control of Congress.

"If Americans grew used to the benefits in the new law, he suggested, it would become politically untenable for Republicans to repeal its most popular measures," wrote Times reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin. "The country, McConnell lamented, might cross a point of no return toward becoming a European-style social welfare state —exactly the outcome he had spent his career arguing against."

A spokesperson for McConnell didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.


The bulked-up child tax credit expired four months ago due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republicans spearheaded by McConnell. Democrats initially wanted to extend it for at least a year under their Build Back Better legislation. But Manchin sank the House bill in part due to his resistance to the benefit.

Biden recently conceded that the child allowance is unlikely to be revived anytime soon. Manchin has also tried squashing any attempt to revive social spending initiatives in a smaller version of the bill. Democrats are mounting a last-ditch effort to pass a slimmer package with his approval in the 50-50 Senate.

McConnell was unnerved about Biden's child tax credit becoming too popular for the GOP to kill, book says
Senate Democrats huddle with Sen. Joe Manchin.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The stimulus law transformed the child tax credit into a one-year, near-universal cash benefit for families, widening eligibility to the poorest households with little or no taxable income for the first time. Families received $250 per kid ages 6 to 17 or $300 for each child age 5 and under.

The overhauled program dented child poverty and reduced it by roughly a third, according to research from the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University. But those gains were erased only a month after the initiative expired. Child poverty has ticked up since.

Families that spoke to Insider's Leo Aquino said they used the federal cash to cover basic expenses like groceries and utility bills, along with paying down medical bills. It did not gain widespread popularity among voters during the program's brief lifespan, though recipients of the aid strongly backed it.


Manchin never appeared to embrace the child allowance. He remained skeptical about the federal government sending families monthly checks with no-strings-attached and pushed to reinstate a work requirement. That put Manchin on a collision course with the vast majority of his party who supported renewing it as a monthly check program and providing a buffer for the poorest families against financial shocks.

The authors wrote that the conservative Democrat had privately complained to some of his colleagues that the enhanced child tax credit would pay people to have more kids when West Virginia families couldn't afford the ones they already had.

Manchin also told Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey that he believed the money would be spent on drugs. That caused Booker to rebut and tell him that families would use it on everyday expenses like diapers, per authors Martin and Burns.

Democrats are increasingly worried about a blowout in the November midterms due to rising prices. According to a Morning Consult and Politico survey released last month, Republicans are now edging out Democrats among a specific group of voters: parents who once received the beefed-up child tax credit.