Remarks by the Vice President at a Child Tax Credit Event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, everyone. (Applause.) It is good to be back in Pennsylvania. Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. Please have a seat. Please. Thank you.
I was just downstairs, meeting with the young leaders who range in age from -- well, they were proud to tell me: on their way to third grade, not second grade, thank you very much -- (laughter) -- through seventh grade and here for summer school. And it is always so inspiring to meet the children of our community.
And, Ross, you have approached your work -- so many of us -- with the same spirit, which is that the children of the community are the children of the community. And in that way, we approach the work that we do understanding our responsibility, our duty to all of our communities' children.
And it was so wonderful to be with them downstairs because, when you look in their eyes, you can see that our future is bright.
So, thank you all. It's great to be with you. It's great to be back in Pittsburgh. (Applause.)
So -- and you know what? Like I said, meeting these children -- I mean, they are -- they are, without any question, our nation's future. They are full of hope and full of light. And they have not yet heard -- and if they -- it's been spoken to them, they still haven't heard it -- that there are any limitations on who they are or who they can be. And isn't that the way, at every stage of life, we all should be?
But it is so inspiring to see them. And I -- before I begin my comments for the purpose of my trip, I want to thank Secretary Marty Walsh -- where are you? There you are. (Laughter.) Secretary Marty Walsh for joining me on this trip. (Applause.) We are co-leading a -- many things in our administration, including our Labor Council, and Marty has been a longstanding public servant devoted to working families in America. So, it's great to be with you, Marty.
My senator, my friend from Pennsylvania, Bob Casey. (Applause.) We have been together -- so many times, I have traveled this state with him and Josh Shapiro. It's so good to be with you guys.
And, Josh, thank you for all the work you do. Back in my days as Attorney General, we would talk, and you've been an extraordinary leader on the issues that affect Pennsylvania, but national issues.
Mayor Bill Peduto, thank you for the warm welcome that you gave me today. (Applause.) And it turns out we have friends in common, so thank you for the warm welcome when you greeted me today on the tarmac.
And to all the elected officials and all the teachers and all the parents, thank you all for all that you do.
So, when we think about where we are today, I want to just get to the point of this moment. It's been about five months since President Joe Biden and I took office. And many people have asked me -- many reporters and just folks on the street have asked: What has been the most joyful thing for you about being Vice President? And what has it been in terms of the work of your administration?
And every time, I tell them exactly what it is: The proudest moment that I have experienced in this position was when President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law.
And I'll tell you why: Because through tax credits and food assistance and housing assistance and healthcare coverage and direct checks, the American Rescue Plan -- and here's the drumroll -- the American Rescue Plan will lift half of America's children out of poverty. (Applause.)
And I'm going to say that again: Half of America's children will be lifted out of poverty. And when we think about what that means, it's also about understanding that all families, they love their children but don't always have the resources that are necessary to do all that they hope and pray and desire for their children.
And so, that's the significance. It's about also understanding that when we talk about child policy, it has to be with a recognition that we don't just come in and take care of the child. You want to take care of a child? You do it in the context of the family in which that child is being raised. (Applause.)
You recognize the challenges of working parents. You recognize the challenges of families that are just barely holding it together. And then you treat the issue in the context of the whole.
And so, for the work that we have done with the American Rescue Plan, it will include benefitting, here in Pennsylvania, 140,000 children. And the impact of that, of course, is, what we say -- you know I come from California, so I'm going to say "seismic." (Laughter.) Historic.
It will be felt not only by children today, not only by children now; it will be felt by families and communities and, by extension, our country for generations to come. And so that's why I am here today. (Applause.)
And I'm here because, Pittsburgh, we need your help to make it work, to make it happen. So, we do the big thing, but then the details of the rollout make all the difference between whether the thing actually happens, right?
And so, what we know is when more families know about the relief that is included in the American Rescue Plan, when more families know about how they can get the relief, that is how we will be able to lift our children out of poverty. That is how we will lift up our nation's middle class, as well.
The increase and the expansion of the Child Tax Credit is one of the most important, one of the most impactful parts of the American Rescue Plan.
On Child Tax Credit Awareness Day, we are getting the word out about this tax relief. So that's why I'm here to speak with all of these leaders, all of you: to help us get the word out.
And there are four things in particular that our families need to know. First, the Child Tax Credit is now higher than it was before. It's bigger than it was before. So, for children six years and over, it was $2,000 per child. Now, it is $3,000 per child. (Applause.) And for children six years old and under, it is now $3,600 per child. (Applause.) Because part of what we know is that the cost of living keeps going up, but wages have remained stagnant in many parts of our country.
So, we need to meet the demands, again, on our families. And that extra $1,000, that extra $1,600 -- well, you know what that means. That could cover a month of rent, a few months of groceries, an entire year of diapers. Right? So it makes a big difference.
The second thing we need you to know is that the Child Tax Credit covers more families than it did before. So, more families will qualify. Every American family making $150,000 or less will receive the full credit. So, many families making more than that will receive partial credit. But under $150,000? Full credit.
And for the President and me, this is about fairness. American families need this support. And we want to make sure that, regardless of their income, that our families receive it.
The third thing that we need folks to know is something I've been working on for quite some time now, which is families will receive this credit -- and it's been mentioned already -- families will receive this credit every month instead of as a lump sum at the end of the year.
Well -- (applause). And all of you are clapping because you know why. (Laughter.) People got to pay their bills every month. People got to pay the rent every month. You got to buy groceries -- frequently. (Laughs.) So, we want to make sure that we are actually helping families, right? And that means taking some of the pressure off of those monthly, if not daily, responsibilities.
In fact, the IRS estimates that 30 million -- or 39 million households will see checks and direct deposits starting in July. Thirty-nine million. (Applause.)
And the fourth and final thing that you need to know is how to get the Child Tax Credit. Now, this is equally important, if not more so, right? Those are all the benefits, but now let's talk about how to get it.
If you filed taxes for 2019 or 2020, or if you signed up with the IRS to receive a stimulus check in 2020, you're good. You don't have to do anything extra. You will get the Child Tax Credit automatically.
But what we need to get the word out -- okay? -- is that if you want to get the monthly payments, which are going to start July 15th, and if you did not file taxes in 2019 or 2020, or if you did not sign up with the IRS to receive a stimulus check, you have to take action. You have to take action, okay? You have to do something to get it. And you'll be qualified, but you have to do something to actually get the checks.
And so what you need to do -- and I'm going to give you a website, because how could I be here without a website? -- ChildTaxCredit.gov. Okay? So, visit ChildTaxCredit.gov and fill out the simple form. And that's it. And then the monthly payments will start coming.
And, as I said at the start, this is obviously very important for our nation's families. And President Joe Biden and I want every single family who qualifies for the Child Tax Credit to receive it.
And so that's why, today, we are partnering with organizations across the country and all of you, to get the word out. And, again, we need your help. Whether you are spending some time over the next couple days, you know, at the grocery store or at work or at school or at church -- wherever you run into people, perfect strangers, just go on up and introduce yourself and tell them about the Child Tax Credit. (Laughter.) Let them know it's available. Spread the word. Let them know help is here.
And remember: The increase and the expansion of the Child Tax Credit is only for 2021. Okay? So, we are working, as an administration with all our friends, to extend it for years and years through our American Families Plan, which is what we are negotiating now and talking about in Washington, D.C.
Because we will never -- and with your leaders here -- and, in particular, your congressional leaders, because I work with them and I know them and I see them in the hallways in D.C. Whether the cameras are on or the cameras are off, they are always fighting for Pennsylvania's families, and we cannot stop fighting for our nation's children.
So let me just end today with a quick story about what's at stake. So, I've been a lot of childcare centers, because, also, it just can be the highlight of your week to do that. (Laughs.) And a few months ago, I met this little girl named Galya. And she's five years old. And this little one is something. So, I walk in the room in her classroom, and she -- she has clearly decided that she is going to be the ambassador to the class. (Laughter.) And so I walk in, and she just came up and just stood by my side and started introducing me, by name, to every single child in the classroom, by na-- "and that is this and this is this and this and this."
And, at one point -- I was so impressed by her. And I -- and I bent down and I said, "Galya, you know you can be anything you want to be." And, of course, you probably have now some hint of her response to me. She looked at me in my eyes -- she looked up at me in my eyes, and she said, "Well, I want to be everything." (Laughter and applause.) "I want to be everything." Right?
And I know all of our community's children -- all those young leaders I met downstairs, all of our young leaders who are present right now -- they want to be whatever they want to be. And it is our responsibility to support them every step of the way.
So, finally, I'll just say: President Joe Biden and I are determined to get this work done. And we do believe, and I -- many of you probably know him personally -- it is truly a commitment of ours to uplift, to support, and to do everything we can to support families in nurturing the children of our community. That is how we will build a strong nation. And we are firmly committed to this work.
So, I want to thank all of you very much for all of the support and all the work that you're doing every day. These have been difficult months -- these last many, many months. We're seeing light at the end of the tunnel; our kids are in summer school. But we still have a lot of work to do. And the only way we'll be successful is to do it together.
Thank you all. And may God bless you. And may God bless America. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at a Child Tax Credit Event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/350507