House of Representatives Passes Debt Ceiling Bill with Spending Cuts and Work Requirements for Food Stamps
The House of Representatives has passed a bill to raise the United States' debt ceiling while also cutting some government spending over the next two years. This is a major victory for both the White House and Republican leaders, as the country was at risk of a historic default on its bills. The compromise deal worked out between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden suspends the debt limit until Jan. 1, 2025, while holding non-defense spending for fiscal year 2024 to just under current levels and raising it by 1 percent in fiscal year 2025.
The final legislation is a compromise between President Joe Biden and McCarthy, and it will suspend the debt limit until January 2025, ensuring that the issue won’t be a point of contention until after the 2024 presidential election. The contents of the text include an increase in work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly referred to as SNAP) and a two-year limit on spending. The measures proposed include resuming federal student loan payments that have been halted since 2020 and discontinuing the issuance of food stamps.
The deal struck between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy raises the debt limit in exchange for limiting non-defense discretionary spending for two years, adding work requirements for food stamps for childless adults ages 50-54 and claws back some of the increase in IRS funding that Democrats passed last year.
It was anticipated that the House vote would be more controversial than the one in the other chamber. The legislation will now move on to the Senate, where it is expected to pass with little resistance. The significance of the House vote on the deal lies in the fact that over 20 Republicans were reported to be planning to vote against the bill, raising concerns that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would lack the necessary support for its passage. Ultimately, the bill faced opposition from both conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats, while it received support from a majority of moderates in both parties.
The bill will reduce budget deficits by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office. If the agreement is signed into law, payments on federal student loans that were paused at the start of the pandemic will be reinstated at the end of August, with the bills coming due the next month.
The resumption of student loan payments at the end of summer 2023, following a multi-year pause, is a significant development, as it affects millions of Americans who have been granted a reprieve from paying their federal student loans during the pandemic.
Passing the bill marks the House’s biggest bipartisan victory since Republicans took over the chamber this year. Up until this point, McCarthy has mainly engaged in contentious negotiations with members regarding a sequence of messaging bills that lacked support from Democrats and had no possibility of being enacted into law. He encountered numerous inquiries regarding his ability to secure sufficient backing from Republicans for the debt proposal.
The deal was a critical test for McCarthy as speaker, as he had to craft a deal that satisfied the demands of the majority of his conference without alienating some of the Democratic lawmakers he needed to support the bill in order for it to pass. McCarthy found himself in a difficult situation as he had to satisfy the demands of the extreme right-wing. For the debt ceiling deal to be approved, it must be passed by both the House and the Senate. A Senate conservative, Mike Lee of Utah, warned that he would use “every procedural tool” to delay a deal that lacked “substantial reform.”
The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it will need 60 votes before it would go to Biden's desk. If necessary, lawmakers are ready to stay over the weekend to pass the legislation, as confirmed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
0. “Debt ceiling deal: US House overwhelmingly passes bill” BBC, 1 Jun. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-65771669
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