News Today May 30, 2023, Debt Ceiling and The United States

Brooklyn Muse
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President Joe Biden and House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy have agreed in principle on a debt ceiling agreement for the United States of America. This agreement caps spending and addresses the debt limit of the US.

It has been a tense drama of negotiations between the parties Democrats hold the majority of members in the Senate - Majority (51) Democratic (48) Independent (3) Minority (49) Republican (49) and Republicans hold the majority of members in the House of Representatives- 222 Republicans 213 Democrats.

The saga continues today May 30, 2023, as Congressional leaders of both parties have to convince enough of their members to vote on this tentative agreement. The passing of this debit ceiling accord would require significant compromises on both sides of the aisle.

The bill verbiage itself was made public on Sunday, May 28, 2023, as both Republicans and Democrats attempted to skew elements of the document as positive for each of their individual political agendas.

The initial compromise would suspend the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt limit through January 1, 2025. The purpose of this is so it is not a potential issue in the 2024 presidential election

In addition, in fiscal 2024 non-defense spending would remain relatively flat and then increase slightly by 1% in fiscal 2025 after some appropriations were made. The following year- 2025 there would be no budget caps.

The cap of non-defense discretionary spending for fiscal 2024 would be about $704 billion, of which $121 billion would be for veterans’ medical care and $583 billion would be for other areas. The adjustments would bring the resources available for spending outside of veterans’ medical care to $637 billion for the 2025l year, compared to $638 billion for the current one.

Unused Covid-19 relief funds of $11 billion and $10 billion in money shifted from the Internal Revenue Service would be used for non-defense discretionary spending. Congress had initially approved roughly $4.6 trillion in Covid-19 relief funds since the pandemic began in early 2020.

In addition, $10 billion in funds would be used from mandatory programs, and $23 billion as emergency funds would be repurposed. $886 billion would also be spent on defense, according to the bill text.

Veterans' health care would receive full funding and would increase support for the PACT Act’s toxic exposure fund by nearly $15 billion for the fiscal year 2024.

This tentative debt ceiling agreement would increase work requirements for some receiving food stamps. Currently, childless, able-bodied adults ages 18 to 49 are only able to get food stamps for three months out of every three years unless they are employed at least 20 hours a week or meet other criteria. This bill would increase the upper limit of the mandate to age 55 in specific steps.

It would expand exemptions for veterans, homeless, and former foster youth in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. All the changes would end in 2030.

The current work requirements would be tightened in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program by adjusting the work participation rate credits that states can receive to reduce their caseloads. House Republicans wanted work requirements for Medicaid- this will not be a part of this bill.

Student loan payments would begin at the end of the summer according to this plan. The pause has been in effect since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Biden’s plan for up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness would move forward. This specific element is currently before the Supreme Court,

House Republicans attempted to block the loan forgiveness and end the pandemic-related pause on federal student loan payments just last week. House Republicans also have sought to repeal the law’s clean energy tax credits and subsidies just this week. This agreement does not have any effect on the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate and clean energy provisions, which is a point of contention for House Republicans.

In addition, the agreement calls for the creation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline in West Virginia.

United States citizens anxiously await the major political decisions currently being made in reference to the debt ceiling and its effect on our lives.

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