As of this weekend no deal has been reached on raising the debt ceiling, despite promising reports earlier in the week that negotiations were going well. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Biden met on Tuesday to continue discussions, and top negotiators for each of them continued meeting throughout the week. On Friday, May 20, 2023, however, negotiations halted when Republicans walked out of the room. Although both sides have come back to the table, no progress has been reported. Speaker McCarthy and the President are planning to meet on Monday.
Although there are many sticking points still to work through, one of the key differences between the President and the Speaker is their stance on increasing work requirements in safety net programs. The House-passed bill includes new work requirements in Medicaid, increased work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and tightening work requirements for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, often referred to as “welfare.” Politico reported this weekend that as the deadline draws near, House Republicans are demanding even more stringent work requirements in SNAP as well as immigration proposals from the bill they just passed.
CWLA released a statement on Tuesday, May 16th, about the harms of the TANF proposal, which is below. In addition to strengthening work requirements, the proposal in this bill would reset the caseload reduction credit for states, removing flexibilities to provide cash assistance to individuals and families with low incomes that cannot meet the work requirements as defined in the law. In order to meet the caseload reduction targets, many states would have to also reduce the number of child-only grants they provide, which would be harmful to many kinship caregivers who rely on these grants, as well as other families.
On Tuesday May 16th, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries stated that work requirements are a “nonstarter” for him in the debt ceiling debate, the strongest statement from leadership against these new requirements, while other Democratic members of Congress also spoke out against them in statements to the press and in remarks on the Senate floor.
Another major point of contention is the limits on discretionary spending in the House bill, which caps FY2024 spending at the same level as FY2022 and institutes a 1% growth cap each year for the next decade.
Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has estimated that United States will hit the debt limit on June 1st, which is just days away and there is still no final deal in sight.