House GOP Unveils Debt Limit Bill, Proposes $1.5 Trillion Debt Ceiling Increase
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on April 19 unveiled legislation to increase the nation’s debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024, whichever comes first.
At the same time, the measure would return discretionary spending to 2022 levels, limit spending growth to 1 percent per year, take back unspent COVID-19 relief funds, repeal certain tax credits, reinstate work requirements for many people on public assistance, and remove barriers to increased production of domestic energy.
If enacted, the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 would allay concerns about a possible default on U.S. obligations but push a more permanent resolution of the debt crisis into the election season.
McCarthy reportedly intends to bring the bill to a vote sometime next week. However, it’s unclear if Republicans can muster the 218 votes needed for passage in the narrowly divided House.
While Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), chair of the House Committee on the Budget, has been hammering out the details of the measure, some in the party have said gaining passage of any fiscal proposal will be difficult in the 118th Congress.
“It’s not going to be easy. Every dollar spent has an advocate up here,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said in an April 18 interview with NTD, sister media outlet to The Epoch Times.
The budget committee has fielded more than 500 amendments offered by House members, suggesting cuts to each agency, according to Norman.
President Joe Biden sharply criticized the Republican plan based on details revealed in a speech that McCarthy gave at the New York Stock Exchange on April 17.
“I’m here in this union hall with you, while just two days ago, the Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy went to Wall Street to describe the MAGA economic vision for America,” Biden told a group of union workers in Accokeek, Maryland.
Contrasting his economic vision, the president said the Republicans’ plan would entail deep cuts to federal programs that benefit average Americans while preserving tax breaks for wealthy people.
“It will destroy this economy,” Biden said. “And who do you think it will hurt the most? You hard-working people in the middle class.”
Democrats have said that achieving the spending reductions Republicans seek will require a 22 percent cut in discretionary spending, resulting in higher costs for students, the loss of child care for thousands of families, reductions in services for veterans and senior citizens, and the loss of food assistance for 10 million people—including 4 million children.
Apparently hoping to prod Democrats into negotiating over Republicans’ spending demands, McCarthy has portrayed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as “missing in action” and said that Biden is ignoring the debt problem.
The United States reached its statutory $31.4 trillion debt ceiling in January but didn’t exceed it because of extraordinary measures taken by the Treasury. Those measures will be exhausted by late summer, according to recent estimates.
Because the country operates on a deficit budget, borrowing is necessary to continue funding the operation of the government.
McCarthy, who has been frustrated for weeks by the president’s refusal to negotiate, has insisted that Congress won’t approve an increase in the borrowing limit without a concurrent agreement by Democrats to cut future federal spending.
Biden has insisted that budget discussions must be separate from an increase in the debt ceiling, which enables the government to pay for obligations already approved by Congress.
The president has rebuffed McCarthy’s requests for a meeting, saying it would be pointless to talk about spending cuts before Republicans list their proposed reductions.
Biden released his 2024 budget proposal on March 9.
“Now that we’ve introduced a clear plan for a responsible debt limit increase, they have no more excuse and refuse to negotiate,” McCarthy said.
“President Biden has a choice. Come to the table and stop playing partisan political games, or cover his ears, refuse to negotiate, and risk bumbling his way into the first default in our nation’s history.”