House GOP Hard-Liners Push For Changes To Debt Ceiling Bill
WASHINGTON ― One day after unveiling legislation to overhaul federal spending and bolster their case for President Joe Biden to negotiate on the debt ceiling, House Republicans went back to the drawing board.
A group of far-right lawmakers and committee chairs met in a Capitol conference room Thursday to discuss potential revisions to the spending plan that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) revealed Wednesday.
Some legislators were unhappy that the bill’s proposed work requirements for Medicaid and other federal safety net programs were not as strict as they’d expected.
“There are a few cleanup things that we need to discuss,” House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told reporters. “And that’s just one of them.”
The Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 would raise the government’s borrowing limit until next year, avoiding a risky default on federal debts while cutting spending by several trillion over a 10-year window.
“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,” McCarthy said on the House floor Wednesday.
Biden will likely wait to negotiate until Republicans pass the legislation in the House, which leaders have said they will do next week. McCarthy can lose only four Republicans and still pass a bill without Democratic votes, meaning his margin is slim and individual lawmakers have considerable power to sway the legislation.
Biden and Democrats have said Congress should raise the debt ceiling without any conditions. The stakes are high: Economists warn that a default could wreck the economy.
Several Republicans have said they are opposed to the bill or undecided on it. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) told HuffPost on Thursday he was “solidly” against it.
A key provision would limit Medicaid health coverage for unemployed adults without dependents. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) had proposed requiring about 30 hours of work or training per week to receive benefits, but the bill unveiled by McCarthy called for 20 hours.
“I’ll probably be pushing for more rigor for the work requirements every moment up to the vote,” Gaetz told reporters after emerging from Thursday’s meeting.
The bill also includes stricter work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food aid to qualified recipients. However, these were less strict than the ones originally proposed by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.). Still, Johnson told HuffPost that he was satisfied with the legislation.