House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited parents in El Sereno Thursday to celebrate the beginning of increased payments under the enhanced Child Tax Credit program included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

The federal government began issuing the payments Thursday, meaning parents will receive payments of $300 for each child under age 6, and $250 for each child aged 6 to 17. The full payments will go to households earning up to $150,000 a year, with lower amounts provided to families with higher incomes.

“Tens of thousands of children will be lifted out of poverty,” Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said during the visit to Barrio Action Youth and Family Center.

She said that when she’s asked about the “most important issues facing the Congress, I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children.”

“Checks are being mailed or electronic transferred as we speak because of President Biden and the White House and Democratic majorities in the Congress. As I said before, help is here.”

The Child Tax Credit has been in place since 1997, but it was originally capped at $2,000 per child each year. The American Rescue Plan lifted the cap to $3,600 for children younger than 6, and $3,000 for those aged 6-17. The payments have only been enhanced for one year.

The program is expected to benefit 1.1 million children in Los Angeles County.

“This has been such a tough year for so many families, with COVID threatening lives, closing down businesses, causing unemployment,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena. “It’s been tough to pay for food and rent. So we knew we had to make our top priority helping working families.”

Republicans in Washington, D.C., have been critical of the expanded payments, equating them to a type of welfare.

“No questions asked and no strings attached,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, wrote in an op-ed earlier this year. “That is not pro-family policy, no matter how much Democrats will claim it to be. If pulling families out of poverty were as simple as handing moms and dads a check, we would have solved poverty a long time ago.”

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