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What is next for debt limit bill

The Senate and President Biden have just days to finalize a bill to lift the debt ceiling and avoid default.
What is next for debt limit bill
Posted at 7:25 AM, Jun 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-01 07:27:09-04

On Wednesday, the House voted by a 314–117margin in favor of H.R. 3746, which, if signed into law, would raise the debt limit for two years and cut spending on some discretionary programs.

That bill now goes to the Senate.

With time running out to pass something before the United States defaults on its debt, the Senate is unlikely to make any changes to the bill. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States could hit the debt limit by Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hasn’t given a timeline on when the bill will face a final vote.

"Senators should be prepared to move on this bill quickly once it’s the Senate’s turn to act," Schumer said on Wednesday. "I cannot stress enough that we have no margin, no margin for error. Either we proceed quickly and send this bipartisan agreement to the president’s desk, or the federal government will default for the first time ever."

Although the bill got the support of a majority of both Republicans and Democrats in the House, Schumer acknowledged that not everyone was completely happy with the bill.

"Any needless delay, any last-minute brinkmanship at this point would be an unacceptable risk," he said. "Nobody on either side thinks this agreement is perfect, that’s for sure. Nobody got everything they wanted."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is encouraging his caucus to vote in favor.

"The Senate will have an opportunity very soon to pass legislation that reduces federal government spending by $1.5 trillion over the next decade," McConnell said. "That's $1.5 trillion that won't be put on the American taxpayers' tab. It's a down payment on more progress that's yet to come. House Republicans’ unity gave them the upper hand. They used it to secure a much-needed step in the right direction."

The bill was largely worked out between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. President Biden and Speaker McCarthyclaimed victories. The White House sees the agreement as protecting key priorities from Republican proposals. Republicans view this as reining in spending by the administration.

One major win for the White House was preserving the status quo for Medicaid recipients. McCarthy’s plan called on Medicaid recipients ages 19–55 to perform 80 hours of "community engagement" a month, such as work or volunteer requirements.

SEE MORE: Opponents on both sides of aisle to vote against debt limit agreement

The deal holds non-defense spending roughly flat in 2024, increasing it by only 1% in 2024.

The Biden administration was also pleased that Republicans would not try to make student loan borrowers pay back interest over the last three years as payments were paused due to COVID-19.

In addition to cutting discretionary spending, McCarthy scored a win by requiring the executive branch to find "dollar-for-dollar savings" when implementing costly rules and regulations.

The bill also repurposes $10 billion in funding for the Internal Revenue Service out of the $80 billion previously allocated to it over the next 10 years.

Work requirements to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will go up to age 54 for adults without children, but exemptions will be made for some, including veterans and the homeless.

"The Fiscal Responsibility Act 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," McCarthy said.

Like in the House, several senators have expressed opposition to the bill. Among them is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

"The best thing to be said about the current deal on the debt ceiling is that it could have been much worse. Instead of making massive cuts to health care, education, childcare, nutrition assistance, and other vital programs over the next decade, this bill proposes to make modest cuts to these programs over a 2-year period. This bill will also prevent an economic catastrophe by extending the debt ceiling until January 1, 2025 – when we will have to go through with this absurd process once again," Sanders said. "Having said that, I cannot vote for this bill."

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, said he too will vote against the bill.

Once approved by the Senate, the bill would go to President Biden for his signature.


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