The Republican debt ceiling and spending plan was approved by the House Rules Committee in the early morning hours of April 26 along party lines, clearing the way for a rapid up-or-down vote by the full House.
After a six-hour debate on H.R. 2811, the Limit, Save, and Grow Act of 2023, the committee recessed for several hours while Republicans held a strategy session. Upon reconvening, the Republican majority offered an amendment to strike the repeal of an ethanol tax credit from the bill.
Republicans rejected all amendments offered by Democrats, including one to remove expanded work requirements for SNAP recipients and others to remove cuts to the Meals on Wheels food program, the State Opioid Response Program, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Indian Health Service.
Democrats, who had decried spending cuts to various aid programs required by the bill during the debate, expressed outrage at Republican tactics.
“We heard all day that Democrats are the problem. And yet, we are here at nearly 2 a.m., not because Republicans were negotiating with Democrats but because Republicans were negotiating with themselves,” said Ranking Member Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).
“Maybe if this bill had a hearing, maybe if it had a markup, maybe if it wasn’t changed in the middle of the night, even though the GOP leadership swore it wouldn’t be changed at all, maybe we wouldn’t be in this position,” McGovern said. “This is not the way to legislate.”
Though experts say the bill has little chance of passing the Senate, Republicans hope its adoption by the House will force President Joe Biden to negotiate on federal spending, which he has so far refused to do.
If adopted, the measure would raise the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion, temporarily relieving anxiety about the prospect of a default on the nation’s financial obligations. The increase would expire on March 31, 2024, requiring another vote in less than 12 months.
The bill would also reduce discretionary spending to the 2022 level, limit future spending, reinstate work requirements for some recipients of SNAP and Medicaid, rescind green energy tax cuts, and reduce bureaucratic obstacles to domestic energy production.
Republicans portrayed the measures as a commonsense response to a financial crisis brought on by wild overspending by Democrats.
“Spending, spending, and more spending has been the theme of the Biden presidency. We’re already facing the ramifications of this spending spree,” Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said.