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Politics Chat: Biden Voices Support For Continuing Child Tax Credit, DACA


So as we mentioned there, prices have risen, but the U.S. economy is also growing at its fastest pace since the Reagan era, something President Joe Biden likes to mention. Joining me now is NPR national correspondent Mara Liasson. Good morning.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. The stock market is up, unemployment is going down. Biden credits the American Rescue Plan, which Democrats pushed through Congress to help the ailing pandemic economy. But is he getting any credit for the turnaround?

LIASSON: That's a good question. A lot of Democrats are worried that he is not. This could be the downside of not being an in-your-face president. Of course, Trump dominated the media every day. Joe Biden is much more low key. Last week, for example, the first monthly payments of the advanced child tax credit started going out. That means, for some families with young children, it's $300 a month per child. But polling has showed that a lot of families don't know how - who passed that, why they're getting it. And it could be that we're just so tribal that Joe Biden is never going to get any credit even if they did know. But that's something that Democrats worry about and they want Biden to talk about these things much more.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, I mean, a letter also went out. I got one saying that money was going to be coming from Joe Biden personally. So that's one way of sort of putting the publicity out. But these child tax credits are temporary through the end of the year. Biden's ambition, though, is to make them a permanent benefit. How likely is that?

LIASSON: Well, that depends on whether this gigantic $3.5 trillion budget resolution bill passes. This is a bill that would only need Democratic votes in the Senate because it's being passed under a budget maneuver called reconciliation. And in it not only would be the permanent child tax credits, but there's money for infrastructure, climate change, money for pre-K, community college. It would deliver the biggest boost to the social safety net since the Lyndon Johnson administration. But to pass it, Democrats have to have all 50 of their votes in the Senate. There is no margin for error. And it's going to take a couple of months for us to figure - find out if that's going to happen.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, no bipartisanship there.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: What about infrastructure? You know, we always have to come back to infrastructure week.

LIASSON: Yes, we always have to come back to infrastructure. Infrastructure could be bipartisan. There is an infrastructure bill that has been negotiated with Republicans and Democrats. It's going to have a make-or-break moment this week. There's going to be a vote on it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Really, Mara? Really?

LIASSON: It's going to have a make-or-break moment. I'm not saying what's going to happen.


LIASSON: So it needs 10 Republican votes to pass the Senate because this is being voted on under normal rules. We don't know if it's going to get 10 Democrats. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, hasn't said yet that he wants his Republicans to vote against it even though he's also said that his No. 1 priority is stopping the Biden agenda. But this is a big test. When this bill comes up on the floor this week, we're going to find out whether Joe Biden's belief that bipartisan compromise can still happen in Washington is justified or naive.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And we will talk about it again next Sunday. Friday, a federal judge ruled that DACA - the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program - was unconstitutional. President Biden says the Department of Justice will appeal that decision. But Democratic lawmakers are now looking to the Senate parliamentarian to see if they can include immigration provisions for DREAMers into an infrastructure bill. I mean, Mara, how do they think that'll work?

LIASSON: Well, what they want to do is they want the Senate parliamentarian to allow them to attach the DREAMers bill to the giant reconciliation bill that we just talked about - that $3.5 billion bill, not the infrastructure bill. And most people - experts on this are skeptical that the parliamentarian would rule that a bill on immigration somehow has a direct impact on the federal budget. That's the criteria to allow Democrats to include this on reconciliation. Reconciliation, not to make your eyes glaze over, is an exemption to the filibuster.


LIASSON: Just like you can't filibuster Supreme Court nominees or Cabinet nominees, you can't filibuster budget bills. So they have to get the DREAMers bill counted as a budget impact. The interesting thing about this is that the DREAMers have always had bipartisan support. Republican Lindsey Graham used to be a co-sponsor of the DREAMers bill. So, again, this is going to be a big test. Joe Biden says the answer to this problem is for Senate - this - the Congress to pass legislation, although he will appeal this ruling in court. And it's unclear whether there are 10 Republicans - votes to legalize the DREAMers.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thank you very much, Mara.

LIASSON: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF VALANTE'S "ANDLEGUR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.
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