WASHINGTON Senators who want to expand a child tax credit to poor families are worried that congressional squabbling could delay broadening the credit until after the first checks go to middle-income households.
A bipartisan group of senators wrote the tax writers in the House and Senate on Wednesday, asking for a resolution before middle-income families start getting rebates worth up to $400 per child, in less than three weeks.
''We are disappointed that we are in this situation,'' they said.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., denounced colleagues for reneging on promises. ''We keep promising. We keep hearing the promises made by others,'' he said. ''The fact is that nothing has been done.''
Senate Republican negotiators held a preliminary meeting to discuss a compromise between House and Senate bills passed last month.
Both the House and Senate bills allow low-income families who pay no income tax to take advantage of the $1,000 child tax credit by claiming a refund worth 15 percent of their income over $10,500 but there are substantial differences in size and scope.
The House version extends the credit through the decade and makes it available to more wealthy couples. The Senate bill passed with nearly unanimous support is narrower, targeting expansion only to poorer families and offsetting the cost of bigger tax credits by extending customs fees.
The legislation stems from outrage that many low-income families would not benefit from a bigger child tax credit enacted in May.
Lawmakers who propelled the issue forward said low-income families will expect to see something enacted by July 25, when their wealthier neighbors start to receive refund checks.
''They're getting their kids ready for school, too,'' said Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.
House leaders sparred Tuesday over the deadlocked negotiations, each charging the other party with obstructing the bill.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said the Senate bill as it stands discriminates against the wealthy. ''When the Democrats decide that they want to give $1,000 child tax credit to everybody and not discriminate against anybody and extend those out, we'll have a bill,'' DeLay said.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said House Republicans pushed legislation destined to languish. ''It was designed to fail. It was designed not to be adopted,'' he said.
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