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House Republicans stick by child tax credit plan

Bill would make changes permanent, unlike Senate measure

From Ted Barrett
CNN Washington Bureau

Bill would make changes permanent, unlike Senate measure

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Republicans are sticking to their plans to pass an extension of the child tax credit for lower-income families as part of a broader, more expensive tax package that would make the entire child tax credit a permanent part of the tax code, a senior House GOP leadership aide said.

That despite comments Monday by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer that seemed to suggest that President Bush wants the House to pass a stand-alone expansion of the tax credit like the one that passed the Senate last week.

"The president thinks it's a good idea, and he wants to sign that legislation and hopes that Congress will get it to him quickly," Fleischer said at his daily briefing.

But the leadership aide said Fleischer did not mean that the House could not pass a different version of the child tax credit expansion.

"We would view it as [the White House wants] to get [the House bill] done quickly," the aide said.

Both the proposed House bill and the Senate bill would increase the child tax credit for families earning between $10,500 and $26,625 a year. The credit would amount to $400 per child. Both also allow higher-income married couples to claim a larger credit than what was allowed in the previous bill.

The main difference between the two bills is that the House bill would make permanent the otherwise temporary changes to the child tax credit the president signed into law last month.

House Republican leaders, who argued last week against giving the tax credit to families that don't pay income taxes, think Bush would sign their bill if it were to pass both chambers.

"It's what the president proposed in his original bill. So we're trying to do what he proposed," the GOP aide said.

"The president will make certain that his message is understood," Fleischer said. "He believes it is important to work with the House to pass his ideas. But the president thinks that the [version] that the Senate has done is the right thing to do, is a good thing to do, and wants to sign it."

The House aide said Fleischer's comments are being interpreted by House GOP leaders as meaning that Bush would sign the Senate measure but "will work with the House" to get the permanent child tax credit passed.

"I've followed up with them to make sure that's the case," the aide said.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, a California Republican, is scheduled to meet with House Republican leaders Tuesday to discuss the bill, which could be on the floor as soon as this week, the aide said.

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