House Republicans will try this week to pass their plan to raise the debt ceiling that would cut domestic spending, expand SNAP work requirements, and gut the biofuel and clean energy tax incentives that are the centerpiece of President Joe Biden climate policy.
Republicans, who control the House 222-213, can afford to lose as few as four votes to pass the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which is likely to get no Democratic support. Some conservatives reportedly have been pushing to include deeper cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
In an unusual, barbed shot at the bill, the House Democratic whip’s floor schedule eschews the legislation’s official name and instead lists it as the “Default on our Debt Act.”
The legislation would save $4.5 trillion through a broad range of spending reductions, including cutting non-defense, non-mandatory spending to fiscal 2022 levels and capping growth at 1% a year. The legislation also would expand SNAP work requirements to adults as old as 55 – the cap is now 49 – while repealing the biofuel and clean energy incentives enacted last year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
The bill would kill the existing biodiesel tax credit, which was extended through 2024 under the IRA, while abolishing a new clean fuel production tax credit, known as 45Z, that would subsidize low-carbon biofuels, including sustainable aviation fuel. The 45Q tax credit that could subsidize carbon sequestration pipelines for Midwest ethanol plants would be scaled back by the GOP bill.
The bill amounts to an opening negotiating position for the House GOP leadership in talks over the debt ceiling, since the measure has no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate. Senate Democratic leadership denounced the bill as a “ransom note” that threatens to force the country into default.
"Like every other household in America—if Washington wants to spend more, it needs to save more somewhere else," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a tweet on Sunday. "This isn’t controversial—it’s common sense. I invite the President to get serious and join Republicans at the table."
The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calls the bill "a realistic and extremely welcome first step" toward addressing the nation's budget deficits. "This is a reasonable proposal, which would generate significant savings at a time when the nation desperately needs them."
But some analysts think McCarthy could eventually have trouble holding his fragile conference together, if he backs off some of the bill’s provisions in future talks with congressional Democrats and the White House.
“Ultimately, any future deal will need to pass the Republican-controlled House once again, creating a risk for Speaker McCarthy. Many parts of the House Republicans’ new bill are bedrock promises that McCarthy offered to the GOP’s conservative wing to secure his speakership,” according to an analysis by Michael Best Strategies.
“If McCarthy eventually endorses a compromise debt ceiling bill that displeases enough conservative House members, then he could soon face another bitter challenge for his job.”
The attempt to tighten SNAP work requirements could bleed into the farm bill debate, if House Republicans decide to pursue the issue in that venue, as they have in the last two farm bills.
The liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities claims that raising the age limit for work requirements would worsen hunger. "Older workers would be at even higher risk of losing vital assistance because they are more likely to face age-based discrimination in the labor market or to have health issues that can cause periods of joblessness but that caseworkers may not catch as reason for exemption," said CBPP's Ty Jones Cox.
Meanwhile this week, the House Agriculture Committee will continue its focus on farm bill issues. Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., will host a listening session in Newberry, Florida, on Monday with Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., and other members of the panel.
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Then on Wednesday, with Congress back in session, the General Farm Commodities, Risk Management and Credit Subcommittee will hold a hearing to gather views from producer groups. The subcommittee will have a second hearing on Thursday on a non-farm bill issue, regulation of digital assets.
Monday, April 24
North American Agricultural Journalists annual meeting, through Tuesday.
2 p.m. – House Agriculture Committee listening session, Newberry, Florida.
4 p.m. – USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, April 25
9 a.m. – USDA releases monthly Food Price Outlook.
10 a.m. – American Enterprise Institute forum, “The 2023 Farm Bill: Rational Commodity Price and Income Support Programs,” 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
4 p.m. - House Rules Committee meeting to consider the Limit, Save, Grow Act, H-313 Capitol.
Wednesday, April 26
10 a.m. – House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the farm bill commodity programs, 1300 Longworth.
10 a.m. – Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee meeting to consider the nomination of Julie Su to be secretary of labor, 430 Dirksen.
10 a.m. – Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power,
2 p.m. – Senate Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation, 138 Dirksen.
Thursday, April 27
8:30 a.m. – USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
2 p.m. – House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on gaps in regulation of digital assets, 1300 Longworth.
Friday, April 28
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