On Sunday evening, the 99-page bill that would avoid the US defaulting on debt was unveiled by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy after a deal was struck with President Biden. McCarthy still has to get the votes in the House, though some in the GOP are saying the bill doesn't go far enough to cut spending.
The bill was referred to the House Rules Committee, which is set to convene on the matter Tuesday afternoon. Some conservatives on that committee have expressed concerns that the bill doesn't do enough to trim federal spending and may offer challenges. If the bill passes committee, it will head to a House vote on Wednesday.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 would temporarily suspend the public debt limit, ending that suspesnsion in January of 2025. It also raises the debt ceiling by $4 trillion to a total of $35 trillion.
Under the bill, spending would be limited in non-defense appropriations, in which spending would be kept roughly flat in Fiscal Year 2024, only increasing by one percent in the following fiscal year.
"Another transformative change to how the government operates is the first-ever administrative pay-as-you-go rules, which require the executive branch to find dollar-for-dollar savings in government for costly new rules and regulations," McCarthy wrote in a piece for the Wall Street Journal.
"In the first two years of the Biden administration, the president unilaterally spent $1.5 trillion by executive fiat. With new paygo rules in place, we will hold Mr. Biden accountable, rein in executive overreach and save taxpayers trillions," he added.
The bill also ends the suspension on the repayment of federal student loans that was started under the Trump administration amid the pandemic and continued by the Biden administration.
Repayments will continue 60 days after June 30, 2023, which is the same month that the Supreme Court is set to rule on Biden’s student loan forgiveness program.
The upper age limit at which a person is eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is increased to 54, but includes expanded benefits for homeless people, veterans, and those 24 and younger who are aging out of the foster care system. These amendments would expire in 2023.
The bill also restricts the number of SNAP work exemptions that a state agency can provide down to eight percent of cases covered by the state.
"We also unleash policies to encourage economic growth. We add new work requirements for adults without dependents who receive money from SNAP and TANF welfare programs. That will help beneficiaries contribute to society, develop their talents, lift themselves out of poverty and achieve financial freedom and personal success," McCarthy wrote.
The bill reclaims $30 billion in unspent Covid-19 relief funds that were never obligated.
"We slash $400 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Health Fund, which during the pandemic directed funds to countries like China. We claw back tens of billions of dollars in unspent Covid funds, making this the largest spending rescission in American history," McCarthy said.
The bill also cut $21 billion of the $80 billion allotted in a spending bill last year.
"We rejected White House demands for $5 trillion in new taxes and instead eliminated funding that would be wasted this year to hire Mr. Biden’s new army of Internal Revenue Service agents. Washington has a spending problem—not a revenue problem—and government should exist to serve you, not go after you," wrote McCarthy.
McCarthy concluded, "All in all, the Fiscal Responsibility Act is truly worthy of the American people. It does what is responsible for our children, what is possible in divided government, and what is required by our principles and promises. Only because of Republicans’ resolve did we achieve this transformative change to how Washington operates. We are 141 days into this Republican majority, and we’re only getting started."
Some Republican lawmakers have blasted the bill, with many vowing to vote no on it.
"Kevin McCarthy has endorsed a debt ceiling 'deal' that will ensure our country hits $35 trillion in debt in less than two years," Rep. Ken Buck wrote on Twitter. Joe Biden and Democrats would now get a free pass on defending their reckless spending before the next election. This deal must be rejected."
Rep Chip Roy posted an infographic to Twitter, noting that GOP lawmakers had wanted to raise the debt ceiling by just $1.5 trillion instead of $4 trillion, fully stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, and cut the entirety of the $80 billion given to the IRS by Democrats last year.
"Washington is broken," wrote Rep Nancy Mace. "Republicans got outsmarted by a President who can’t find his pants. I’m voting NO on the debt ceiling debacle because playing the DC game isn’t worth selling out our kids and grandkids.
The bill was officially introduced to the House on Monday, and has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means and other committees.
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