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Speaking at the White House, President Biden described Thursday — when a majority of U.S. parents were first sent monthly payments as part of the expanded child tax credit — as "a historic day" for ending childhood poverty.

Why it matters: Families representing nearly 60 million eligible children were sent checks — amounting to some $15 billion dollars total — on Thursday, per the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service. The program is one of the largest anti-poverty measures in modern history.

Biden said the payments have "the potential to reduce child poverty in the same way that the social security reduced poverty for the elderly." Children are the poorest age group in the country, with 1 in 6 living in poverty, according to the Children’s Defense Fund.

  • "To give you a sense of how transformative this is, this would be the largest ever one-year decrease in child poverty in the history of the United States of America."

The big picture: The payments, part of the American Rescue Plan, were disbursed to families making under $150,000, or individuals making less than $120,000. Eligible families will get up to $300 per month for each child under age 6, and up to $250 monthly per child ages 6 to 17.

What they're saying: "I believe this is actually a historic day. A historic day in the sense that we continue to build an economy that respects and recognizes the dignity of working class families and middle class families," Biden said.

  • “It’s historic and it’s our effort to make another giant step toward ending child poverty in America. I think this will be one of the things the vice president and I will be most proud of when our terms are up.”
  • "It's one of the largest ever single tax cuts for families with children. And it's a reflection of our belief that the people of this country who need a tax cut aren't the folks at the top," he added.

Biden said he plans to introduce another piece of legislation that will allow for the payments to continue for longer than a year.

Vice President Harris said July 15 should be marked "as the day the American family got so much stronger." She painted the impact of the program as "generational."

Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.) during a press conference at the Capitol celebrated the program as a "successful hit" for both middle class and poor families.

  • “We are sending taxpayer dollars right back to American parents. This will amount to a substantial, and potentially life-altering, tax cut for American families."
  • “This is one of the most historic days in American history, and I’m not being hyperbolic,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Stymied by Sinema

Photo: Mandel Ngan/Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders say Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) potential opposition to any corporate or personal tax increase will complicate — and potentially delay — President Biden’s $2 trillion plan to expand the social safety net.

Why it matters: If tax hikes are out, lawmakers have to find new revenue streams to pay for child care and other administration priorities. Sinema may not be opposed to some drug pricing reforms or enhanced IRS enforcement, Axios has learned.

Oct 21, 2021 - Health

Pediatric groups declare youth mental health crisis a national emergency

Kids attending school in Los Angeles, California. Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Three major pediatric health groups declared on Tuesday a national state of emergency in children's mental health.

The big picture: Rates of childhood mental health issues and suicide had been rising since 2010 but worsened significantly in the last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing social unrest around racial justice.

2 hours ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.