To be sure, the Senate filibuster means that Democrats wouldn’t be able to extract any significant legislation with a new Republican speaker. A new version of the Voting Rights Act, final passage of the DREAM Act, or other measures would be unrealistic to include in any proposed deal. That leaves only things that could be achieved through the budget reconciliation process, which bypasses the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.
Two things stand out at the top of that wishlist. One would be to restore the expanded child-tax credit that Congress initially enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. That expanded measure was credited with lifting millions of American children out of poverty. Conversely, as my colleague Grace Segers explained last month, the Census Bureau found that its expiration at the end of 2021 led child poverty to more than double across the country in 2022.
House and Senate Democrats originally planned to extend it as part of the Build Back Better Act, the legislation that largely laid out Biden’s domestic agenda while Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and White House before last year’s midterm elections. But West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin forced it out of the bill, claiming publicly (and potentially incorrectly) that it would increase inflation, and privately that the people who received the tax credit were spending it on drugs. With the additional Senate seat that Democrats gained in the midterms, Manchin’s vote would no longer be necessary to pass it.