Why you should stop what you’re doing and celebrate the American Family Act introduction

June 9, 2023

Grassroots advocacy is worthy of celebration regardless of outcome, but of course, nothing feels quite like a resounding victory. And in this moment with the introduction of the American Family Act, RESULTS advocates have a couple of big victories to cheer! 

What is so significant about the American Family Act, someone might ask? Put briefly, it would restore the phenomenally effective 2021 expansion of the Child Tax Credit. Yes, the 2021 expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that famously helped cut US child poverty almost in half. The 2021 CTC expansion remains one of the most effective tools that families impacted by poverty used to overcome systemic obstacles and thrive. The American Family Act (AFA) would make aspects of the 2021 expansion permanent law. Features of the AFA include: 

  • Increasing CTC credit amounts across the board 
  • Making the CTC “fully refundable” meaning households with kids earning no or low incomes get the full credit (the current CTC gives no or only partial credit to families with low incomes) 
  • Allowing families to opt-in to monthly payments rather than one big lump sum credit at tax time, which often aligns better with the monthly expenses that come with raising a child (e.g., rent, childcare) 
  • Indexing the CTC for inflation, so that the credit’s worth does not degrade over time 

Grassroots advocates spoke loudly, clearly, and often through lobby meetings and media letting their members of Congress know that nothing short of what we saw in 2021 is acceptable for families and kids. Now, the CTC is front-and-center in Congress and in the press, bringing this proposed legislation into the spotlight, victory #1! 

Victory #2 is how many co-sponsors signed on to this bill: 207 lawmakers signed on with their support. The original goal for co-sponsors was 175, and the spectacular showing is due in no small part to the last-minute push from RESULTS volunteers urging their members of Congress to sign on. Grassroots volunteers rallied to strongly encourage some members of Congress to sign on at the 11th hour, creating a frenetic and exciting final push where cosponsor numbers skyrocketed in real time! 

As some of you may know, the AFA is a Democratic party “marker bill” meaning it signals to Congress what the Democratic caucus hopes for in the ultimate budget. (Unfortunately, this bill is not likely to become law given its fairly partisan nature). Exceeding 200 co-sponsors means grassroots advocates helped unite almost the entire Democratic caucus behind the expansion of the CTC (only 7 did not sign on). A united caucus will be in a better position to advocate for the CTC when it comes time to pass bipartisan tax legislation.  

So, advocates, take a victory lap and be sure to thank your co-sponsor members of Congress as well! Your great aunt’s etiquette advice remains true in the advocacy world: a thank you note goes a long way. Reach out with an email, phone call, or even letter to the editor in your local paper and thank your lawmakers; this will grow your relationship and pave the way for even more shared victories in the future! 

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