Congress Moves to Expand the Child Tax Credit

Happy Wednesday! Yesterday was an exciting day in the nation’s capital! No, there wasn’t any voting happening—Congress gave itself a snow day. But Capitol Hill is good for something besides the occasional lawmaking: It’s also an excellent spot to go sledding.  

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The U.S. military launched additional strikes against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on Tuesday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced yesterday—the third such barrage since late last week. U.S. forces targeted and destroyed four anti-ship ballistic missiles in an ongoing effort to secure Red Sea shipping lanes against continued Houthi attacks on commercial vessels. Houthi militants fired another missile following the U.S. strike, striking a Greek-owned, Maltese-flagged ship—which remained seaworthy and reported no injuries from the attack. Oil giant Shell announced Tuesday it would suspend travel through the Red Sea over spillage risks and crew safety concerns should one of their vessels be attacked. 
  • Meanwhile, CENTCOM confirmed yesterday that a search remains active for two Navy SEALs missing off the coast of Somalia after falling into choppy waters Thursday night. The pair were part of a team attempting to board a small boat, called a dhow, in order to seize Iranian weapons—including ballistic and cruise missiles—being illegally transported to Yemen. CENTCOM said it was the first such seizure since Houthi attacks on the Red Sea shipping lanes began in November of last year. 
  • Israel and Hamas reached a deal on Tuesday to allow additional medical aid into Gaza in exchange for medication being provided to some of the Israeli hostages Hamas and its allies are still holding in the Gaza Strip. Qatari and French negotiators helped broker the deal, which will see medication—purchased in France and shipped to Qatar, where it will be transferred to Gaza—delivered to approximately 45 hostages.
  • A federal judge on Tuesday blocked JetBlue’s $3.8 billion effort to acquire budget airline Spirit, arguing that the acquisition would disadvantage customers who rely on Spirit’s uniquely low prices. “If JetBlue were permitted to gobble up Spirit—at least as proposed—it would eliminate one of the airline industry’s few primary competitors that provides unique innovation and price discipline,” argued Judge William G. Young of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The ruling was seen as a win for the Biden administration after the Justice Department challenged the merger on antitrust grounds in March. Spirit and JetBlue responded to the ruling in a joint statement, saying the companies were considering “next steps as part of the legal process.”
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson dropped out of the 2024 Republican presidential primary on Tuesday after picking up just 191 votes in Monday night’s Iowa caucuses. Hutchinson—who was one of the few candidates to stridently and consistently criticize former President Donald Trump—had repeatedly failed to qualify for GOP debates, appearing in only the first debate last August. “My message of being a principled Republican with experience and telling the truth about the current front-runner did not sell in Iowa,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “I stand by the campaign I ran.”
  • Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is being treated for an infection, his office announced Tuesday. A spokesperson for the senator said Grassley, who is 90 years old, “is in good spirits and will return to work as soon as possible following doctors’ orders.”

Congress Tiptoes Toward a Tax Deal

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith presides over a hearing in the Longworth House Office Building on December 5, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith presides over a hearing in the Longworth House Office Building on December 5, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A Democratic senator and a Republican congressman announced yesterday what has effectively become an endangered species in Congress: a bipartisan, bicameral legislative framework with provisions that are supported by a large number of Republicans and Democrats.

Sen. Ron Wyden, the Democratic chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Jason Smith, the Republican chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, published on Tuesday their negotiated agreement to provide tax breaks for businesses and expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The framework reflects months of negotiations, and supporters of the bill want to push it through before the end of the month—in time for tax filing season. But the deal comes as House and Senate leadership try to avert a government shutdown, and it’s unclear if a tax package can pass both chambers.

The agreement, to be introduced as the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024, includes $78 billion in tax breaks and expanded credits. It would expand access to the CTC implemented under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which doubled the credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child through 2025. It would also phase in an increase in the refundability of the CTC to allow …

As a non-paying reader, you are receiving a truncated version of The Morning Dispatch. Our full 1,584-word story on the new bipartisan tax proposal in Congress is available in the members-only version of TMD.

Worth Your Time 

  • Agam Goldstein-Almog survived 51 days of Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip. In a gut-wrenching first-person account for the Free Press, Goldstein-Almog shares her story—and that of the other young women still being held by the terrorist organization. “These young women were scared and feared for their lives,” she recounts. “They begged us to meet with their families if we were released. Tell them you saw us, they said, but don’t tell them everything. Save their souls from the ghastly details, they said, some of them close to their breaking point. They pleaded with us to continue to fight for them. To make sure they come home. Don’t let the world forget us, they whispered. They told me that more than 50 days ago. The women I met in captivity are strong. They are resilient. And despite everything they’ve been through—evil that no human being should ever witness—they still grasped on to hope. But when I left them, that hope had started to dwindle. On November 26 I was released with my mother and my brothers after 51 days in captivity in Gaza. But I am forever changed. … A murdered father, a murdered sister, 51 days in the hands of terrorists—those are not things you know how to cope with when you’re 17 years old. What I know is that I cannot begin to live my life again until we bring home our sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. I cannot breathe freely knowing that they are still there. I am only a teenage girl. But I beg the world to listen to my cry: save them. Bring them home now.” 

Presented Without Comment 

Financial Times: Ben and Jerry’s Calls for Permanent Ceasefire in Gaza

Also Presented Without Comment

Daily Wire Host Ben Shapiro: “The fact that Donald Trump has stuck around so long, it is an amazing durable story. I mean, It’s the most amazing political comeback, in a sense, since Richard Nixon.”

Toeing the Company Line

  • Today’s the day! Dispatch fans in the New England area can join Sarah, Steve, Jonah, and Mike—plus Andrew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy—for a meet-and-greet event and discussion TONIGHT at 6 p.m. ET at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire! More information on how to register can be found here.
  • In the newsletters: The Dispatch Politics crew filed their dispatches from frigid Iowa after Monday’s caucus and looked ahead to New Hampshire, while Nick looked at the Iowa results (🔒) and concluded that the establishment won.
  • On the podcasts: Jonah is joined by Ross Douthat on The Remnant for a post-mortem on the Iowa caucuses and a look ahead to an increasingly like Trump-Biden rematch.
  • On the site: Stirewalt explains why he thinks Gov. Ron DeSantis will probably hang around in the GOP primary for a while; Nick Hafen explains what’s at stake in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, which SCOTUS will hear today; and Jonah writes on President Joe Biden’s decision to—finally—strike back against the Houthis.
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