WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) - Some 35 million American families are set to receive their first monthly payout from the U.S. government in an expanded income-support program that President Joe Biden on Thursday will argue can help end child poverty.
Under the Child Tax Credit program expanded under Biden's COVID-19 stimulus program, eligible families receive an initial monthly payment of up to $300 for each child under 6 years old and up to $250 for each older child.
Payouts to families with nearly 60 million eligible children totaled about $15 billion for July. The payments are automatic for many U.S. taxpayers; others need to sign up.
Biden is hoping to make expanded benefits permanent as part of a $3.5 trillion spending plan being weighed by Senate Democrats, who expect strong Republican opposition to the full bill.
"Biden will deliver a speech marking a historic moment in our effort to end child poverty," said a White House official. "This additional money will be transformative."
The Child Tax Credit is being likened to a universal basic income for children, though it has income limits.
But it is expected to help people meet monthly expenses from rent to food and daycare. The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University estimates that the expansion can reduce the U.S. child poverty rate by up to 45%.
Critics say the expanded credit is expensive and may discourage people from working.
The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 legislation known as the American Rescue Plan enacted earlier this year increased how much is paid to families under the program.
The law also made half of the tax credit for the 2021 tax year payable in advance by the Internal Revenue Service in monthly installments from July through December this year.
The Biden administration has proposed making the monthly advance payment of the tax credit permanent. Biden also wants to extend the program's expanded until at least 2025. (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)