News broke on Saturday, May 27, 2023, that President Biden and Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) had reached an agreement on the key provisions of a bill to raise the debt ceiling until after the 2024 election. Both the White House and the Speaker of the House released talking points and statements about the agreement, and bill text was released on Sunday night, further clarifying various aspects of the deal.
The proposed bill includes some of the proposals from the House-passed Limit, Save, Grow Act, but does not make the steep cuts sought by the more conservate members of the GOP. The deal does not return funding to FY 2022, and instead keeps non-defense spending roughly flat with current (FY 2023) levels in 2024 when factoring in appropriations adjustments and other offsets, like clawing back some unspent COVID funds and new funding for the IRS, which was included in last year’s appropriations bill. Defense and veterans funding is exempt from the cuts. The bill includes spending caps for the next two years and unenforceable appropriations targets after that.
In the weeks leading up to this deal, the inclusion of work requirements in social safety net programs was one of the key sticking points for both parties. The current bill includes some new work requirements but does not go as far as the House bill would have.
Medicaid. There are no new work requirements for Medicaid recipients in the bill.
SNAP. This agreement would extend the time-limits on benefits for older adults ages 50-54; the House-passed bill would have extended them to age 55. This extension phases in over time. There are exemptions (applying to the full age group – 18-54) for people who are unhoused, veterans, and young people aging out of foster care, and these changes take effect immediately.
TANF. The new bill includes some potentially harmful changes to TANF work requirements but does not go nearly as far as the House bill would have. Among the provisions, the date against which a caseload reduction credit is applied for states would be 2015, which means the changes for states will not be as onerous as if they had gone along with the House-passed bill’s change to 2022. The bill eases other restrictions to make it likely that fewer families and children will lose benefits.
The House is planning to vote on the bill on Wednesday evening, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) has advised Senators that they may need to be available on Friday or over the weekend to vote before the deadline on the debt limit, which the Treasury now estimates to be about June 5th. There is no guarantee that the bill will receive enough support to pass both chambers, as members of both parties have spoken out against the agreement; more conservative members want more spending restrictions, while progressives disagree with the work requirements.