Each week we draw closer to reaching the debt limit, which Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has estimated will happen on or about June 1, 2023, just a few weeks from now. On May 9th, President Biden met with Congressional leadership in both the House and the Senate to begin discussing a path forward, but it was reported that nothing materially changed as a result of this meeting; each party dug further into their public positions, as was made clear by the press conference update given by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after the meeting.

Another meeting had been scheduled for Friday May12th, but that meeting was postponed until this week. This postponement was seen as a positive development, allowing more time for discussion among the White House and Congressional staff. “There have been very good discussions over the last few days at the staff level. And I think the decision was collectively made, led by the White House, to allow those staff conversations to continue,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said.

On May 12th, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chair of the House Democratic Poverty Task Force and member of the House Appropriations Committee, led a letter to President Biden requesting that the administration reject any cuts to safety net programs proposed by Republicans in the ongoing debt limit negotiations. The Democratic letter is cosigned by Tri-Caucus leads Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; Steven Horsford (D-NV), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as well as Poverty Task Force leadership Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX).

This letter echoes the call of the advocacy community, as organizations continue to release statements and papers highlighting the impact of the cuts proposed in the Republican bill. The Center for American Progress (CAP) published “Work Requirements Are Expensive for the Government To Administer and Don’t Lead To More Employment,” a new paper that explores research on the impact of work requirements in SNAP, finding that in both Arkansas and Iowa, these requirements cost the states money to implement and did not have the desired outcomes. The article goes on to note that “other policy options—such as strengthening enforcement against discrimination of disabled workers, creating a national system of paid medical and family leave, and meeting child care needs—offer much more promise than work requirements.”