Sunday’s vote on the Infrastructure Reduction Act (IRA) showed, once again, the differences between Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the Democratic Party. Amendment after amendment, Sanders was the only one to support the publicly popular measures that were included in Democratic Party platform in 2020 but rejected by caucus members.
Another Attempt to Pass the Enhanced Child Tax Credit
One of the amendments proposed by Sanders would have extended the enhanced child tax credit to 2027. The extension applied to the structure of the enhanced child tax credit voted as part of the US bailout in 2021, which allowed the sending of monthly payments to families with children: $3,600 for children under six and $3,000 for older children. These values apply to every child in the home.
In 2021, six payments were sent to households, and child poverty rates have fallen by thirty percent.
With rising inflation in major sectors, including food, utilities and rent, poverty rates have snowballed back to where they were before.
The traditional child tax credit has returned, which means that many fewer families will be eligible because there are minimum incomes. In addition, the amount will return to $2,000 for children under sixteen and no longer be fully refundable. The 2021 version that Sanders tried to see reimposed the expanded eligibility on about twenty-four million children, which is why she was able to make such dramatic cuts in the number of children living in poverty.
The Vermont senator made it clear that he would still vote in favor of the bill. However, unlike other senators who declined to move or vote for an amendment they supported, Sanders did both.
The child tax credit extension was one of five amendments introduced by Sanders during the “vota-a-rama” session, which took place over the weekend. During the adoption of a reconciliation bill, which only needs fifty-one votes to pass, an unlimited number of amendments can be presented and a vote can be forced quite easily. Thirty-seven amendments were proposed in total, five by Senator Sanders, one by Raphael Warnockand one by Mark Warner; only the third made it into the bill.
Indigenous groups react to passage of Inflation Reduction Act
Citing the painstaking negotiations that brought the delicate package to the finish line, most Democratic senators declined to support any amendments that threatened to change the content of the bill. On the climate front, some groups see the bill in agreement with Sanders and see it as a small step towards action and a big win for fossil fuel companies. Although there are provisions for projects focused on environmental justice initiativesthe Indigenous Environmental Network Statement noted that “the bill offers no criteria for what qualifies as an EJ provision”.
“As a result, there is no clear way to verify the promised amount of investment. Additionally, a provision that does not have a positive impact can claim to have EJ priorities.”
In addition, the organization found other aspects of the bill, describing them as “a major investment in fake destructive climate solutions designed to line the pockets of the ffossil fuel and energy industries and cultivate the growth of extractive industries.”