Neal, McGovern: House passage of $78B tax bill a win for families

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal speaks at a press conference at the federal courthouse in Springfield on Friday morning.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal speaks at a press conference at the federal courthouse in Springfield on Friday morning. STAFF PHOTO/ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALLand CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writers

Published: 02-02-2024 7:56 PM

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal touted a new tax relief bill passed by the House of Representatives this week, and shared his views on U.S. foreign policy during a gathering with the press on Friday morning.

Speaking in the atrium inside the federal courthouse, Neal also raved about the jobs report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor, which showed more than 350,000 jobs were added in January, beating expectations and signaling the robust state of the nation’s economy. He said the report showed a full recovery of the jobs that were lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every one of those jobs has been returned, plus the Department of Labor reports this week that 9 million jobs are available right now,” Neal said.

The upbeat jobs report coincided with the recent bipartisan passage of the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act in the House. The $78 billion tax bill expands the child tax credit for low-income families and provides tax breaks for businesses, allowing deductions for research and development.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

A ranking member of the House’s Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax legislation, Neal said although he and fellow Democrats did not get everything they wanted in the bill, it was still a victory for families, including those in Massachusetts.

“It’s going to give them more cash in their pockets. I think that’s a big deal,” the Springfield Democrat said. “At a time when I think there’s been a disproportionate amount of influence on tax cuts for people at the top, this is a tax cut for people in the middle and the bottom of the economic spectrum.”

Fellow western Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, who was in Greenfield on Friday, said the bill, which didn’t include all of his preferred provisions, will lift “hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty,” although its future is not assured, depending on what happens in the Senate. He also credited Neal for fighting hard for the child tax credit.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Two men dump milk, orange juice over themselves at Amherst convenience store
Three Amherst Regional Middle School counselors absolved of Title IX offenses
Springfield man charged with murder in Holyoke stabbing
Lawmakers, Jewish groups accuse Massachusetts Teachers Association of bias
‘Our hearts were shattered’: Moved by their work in Mexico soup kitchen, Northampton couple takes action
Hadley’s Brad Mish, Northampton’s Elianna Shwayder top Hampshire County finishers at 128th Boston Marathon

“What I’m concerned about is that after this deal has been negotiated and the House just voted in a bipartisan way to approve it, we’re now hearing from Republican senators that they want to tinker around with the child tax credit,” McGovern said. “If they make the child tax credit more onerous or if they try to limit it so fewer people can benefit, I’m not sure you’re going to get a tax bill.”

The Worcester Democrat said it “would be a tragedy” if the Senate tries to make changes to a bill that had an “overwhelming vote in the House.”

“The idea that this is all about politics, about positioning Donald Trump to give him some political advantage,” McGovern said, “and what you’re doing is holding up a benefit for families with children who struggle? I mean that’s just disgusting.”

War in Gaza

Several members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, including McGovern and Rep. Ayanna Pressley as well as Sen. Ed Markey, recently called for a cease-fire in Gaza after nearly four months of warfare between Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas.

Protests against the war have been prevalent across western Massachusetts, with demonstrations at UMass Amherst and by the group Jewish Voice for Peace, which will hold its 50th protest against the war on Sunday. A demonstration supporting a cease-fire was also held in front of Neal’s office in Springfield on Tuesday.

Neal said he supported President Joe Biden’s recent decision to send CIA Director William Burns to Israel to negotiate a potential deal between the two sides, and that the release of all current Israeli hostages would need to happen in order for there to be a cease-fire.

“The president has made that clear. Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken has made that clear,” Neal said. “These negotiations will be watched over the next few days.”

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.