BOSTON — Members of the state’s all-Democrat congressional delegation are begrudgingly backing a deal between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy aimed at avoiding a “catastrophic” debt default.
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on compromise bill to raise the national debt limit in exchange for spending cuts and other concessions hammered out in negotiations between the Biden administration and GOP lawmakers over the weekend.
The plan, if approved, would impose some federal spending cuts over the next two years while suspending the debt limit until January 2025 to after the next presidential election. Raising the debt limit, now estimated $31.4 trillion, will allow the U.S. Treasury to continue borrowing to pay the nation’s bills.
Rep. Seth Moulton, a Salem Democrat, is among members of the state’s nine congressional lawmakers who plan to vote to approve the debt ceiling deal.
“This deal averts an untold economic catastrophe and rejects the dangerous demands of House Republicans,” Moulton said in a statement. “While there are provisions that I do not support – like rescinding critical IRS funding – I will be voting in favor of the legislation because it is the right thing to do for the country.”
Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Newton., echoed those sentiments, saying he also doesn’t like parts of the deal but will vote for it over concerns about defaulting.
He urged fellow Democrats and Republicans who’ve pledged to vote against the agreement to “put their country before their primary base.”
“A debt default would be catastrophic, wiping out jobs and crushing retirement accounts,” he said in a statement. “And it would be yet another public relations bonanza for the Chinese Communist Party, critically undermining U.S. geo-economic power and persuasion. Congress must raise the debt limit.”
House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, a Revere Democrat, posted on social media Democrats will vote this week to “avoid a catastrophic GOP-manufactured default” and praising Biden for “standing with our veterans, seniors, and working families” during the negotiations.
The agreement includes a number of concessions to Republican lawmakers who were pushing for deep spending cuts and the elimination of federal social safety-net programs in exchange for approving the debt ceiling increase.
One concession would expand work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. It would phase in higher age limits for “able-bodied” adults to work, bringing the maximum age to 54 by 2025. But that would drop back down to the current age limit of 49 by 2030.
It would also make it slightly harder for states like Massachusetts to waive work requirements for SNAP for certain individuals.
The deal would also claw back about $30 billion in unspent federal pandemic relief money that Congress approved for federal programs such as rental assistance, small business loans and rural broadband expansion.
It would also pull back about $1.4 billion that the Internal Revenue Service was given by Congress last year to crack down on tax fraud, a key GOP demand.
Democrats also won some concessions from the debt ceiling agreement, including expanded benefits for veterans and new assistance for homeless individuals.
But they’ve also complained about the tougher work requirements for social safety-net programs, and a provision that would end Biden’s three-year long pause on federal student loans.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Boston Democrat, filed an amendment to the bill seeking to preserve the White House’s repayment pause on federal student loans.
“The student loan payment pause has been an essential lifeline for workers and families struggling to make ends meet,” she said in a statement. “Republicans continue to play games with our economy, with disregard for our most vulnerable families.”
On Tuesday, McCarthy and other Republican lawmakers touted Congressional Budget Office estimates saying the Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling bill would cut $2.1 trillion in spending if the targets are met over the next six years.
“I’ve always said a debt ceiling is like a family having a credit card, but the family has charged it all the way up,” McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday.
McCarthy still faces pushback from more than a dozen far-right GOP lawmakers who complained that the spending cuts included the deal didn’t go far enough.
The plan was narrowly approved the GOP-controlled House Rules Committee late Tuesday, before heading to the House floor on Wednesday for a final vote.
Even if the House approves the bill, it must still pass the Democratic-controlled Senate ahead of the Treasury Department’s June 5 deadline in order to avert a “catastrophic” default.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey are among a group of Senate Democrats who have urged Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment to lift the debt ceiling and avert default on his own, without an act of Congress.
Original story HERE.