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Religion leaders urge lawmakers to move expanded baby tax credit score

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Religion leaders joined members of Congress on Capitol Hill Thursday (Dec. 15) to voice help for the enlargement of the kid tax credit score, urging lawmakers to reinstate a broader model of the anti-poverty profit earlier than the top of the 12 months.

“For many people, it is a season of miracles — the miracle of Jesus’ delivery, the miracle of Hanukkah,” stated Abibat Rahman-Davies of the Pals Committee on Nationwide Laws, a Quaker group. “However increasing the CTC? That shouldn’t take a miracle.”

The occasion was a part of a sustained advocacy push by a gaggle of religion leaders from throughout the theological spectrum, with liberal-leaning non secular teams and conservative evangelical organizations becoming a member of forces to push for lawmakers to embrace an expanded model of the credit score that helps fight baby poverty. Earlier this 12 months, the group published an advertisement in Politico Magazine and despatched a letter to all 535 members of Congress and to the White Home asking them to make the kid tax credit score “absolutely refundable and obtainable to low-income households on a everlasting foundation.”

Lawmakers allowed the expanded model of the credit score, which was created as a part of the American Rescue Plan, to run out final 12 months, sparking frustration amongst anti-poverty advocates. Members are at present wrangling over competing last-minute proposals put ahead by each events in hopes of passing one thing as a part of an omnibus invoice earlier than the top of the 12 months.

Rep. Rosa Luisa DeLauro of Connecticut, who has usually invoked her Catholic religion whereas advocating for liberal insurance policies, voiced passionate help for an expanded model throughout Thursday’s occasion.

“I’m so pleased with being part of a residing Catholic custom,” DeLauro said. “A convention that unfailingly promotes the widespread good, expresses a constant mannequin framework for all times and highlights the necessity to present a collective security web for our group’s most weak — and that features our youngsters.“

DeLauro appeared to reference proposals floated by some Democrats that embrace tax breaks for companies in an try to accrue Republican help.

“If we are able to present tax cuts for America’s companies, we are able to actually present a tax reduce for America’s youngsters,” she stated.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Lutheran, tied his help for the credit score to Matthew 25, a Bible passage that calls on Christians to look after the sick and feed the hungry. Brown stated he was as soon as given a Poverty and Justice Bible, and famous how its translation of the passage’s remaining line — “What you probably did for many who appear much less essential, you probably did for me” — resonated along with his religion.

“It’s so clear that that’s our calling,” Brown, an Ohio Democrat, stated.

Folks impacted by the kid tax credit score additionally addressed the gathering, explaining how the credit score benefited their households. Rabbi Jonah Pesner provided a prayer, asking God to forgive the U.S. for a “12 months of struggling of our youngsters” due to the expired credit score.

The expanded model of the credit score allowed households to obtain as a lot as $3,600 per baby in 2021, a marked improve over the earlier $2,000-per-child funds. Advocates argue the rise made a major distinction to struggling households, and that its disappearance resulted in dire penalties: Researchers at Columbia University discovered that baby poverty elevated 41% a month after the credit score expired.

Liberal non secular coalitions will not be unusual on Capitol Hill, however the occasion additionally included the voices of extra theologically conservative evangelicals.

“It is a crucial time to talk up,” stated the Rev. Eugene Cho, an evangelical pastor and head of the anti-poverty group Bread for the World. “When you ask us why we should always communicate up, I can consider 12 million causes,” he added, referring to the millions of children who struggle with poverty.

Galen Carey, vice chairman of presidency relations for the Nationwide Affiliation of Evangelicals, additionally addressed the gathering. He argued the credit score resonates along with his group’s non secular commitments, equivalent to “safeguarding the sanctity of human life.”

“For individuals who are involved concerning the sanctity of human life and defending the unborn baby, the kid tax credit score offers welcome reassurance to expectant mothers and dads who marvel if they may afford to lift a baby,” Carey stated. “It tells them that they’re not alone. And that in the event that they select life, they won’t must shoulder the prices and burdens of parenting on their very own.”

He was echoed by Steffani Thomas of the Mormon Ladies for Moral Authorities.

“As a girl of religion, I’m guided by the Scripture that I think about which insurance policies will permit the biggest variety of God’s kids to thrive, have self-determination and alternatives,” she stated.

Along with the Community Foyer for Catholic Social Justice — whose government director, Mary Novak, provided the closing prayer — different teams that sponsored the occasion included the Nationwide Council of Jewish Ladies, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Jewish Federations of North America, Nationwide Council of Church buildings, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Convention.

Earlier than she left, DeLauro repeatedly urged religion leaders to mobilize their networks, calling on them to “overwhelm the Senate and overwhelm the White Home” with calls from supporters.

“Congress is an establishment that responds to inside strain,” she stated.

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