Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Freedom Caucus and Progressives are Dissatisfied with Debt Deal Details

'That, ladies and gentlemen, is a sleight of hand...'

(Headline USA) Republicans and Democrats are deeply conflicted about the food stamps requirements that McCarthy and Biden negotiated as part of the debt ceiling deal.

Bargaining over toughening work requirements for food stamps became the focal point for the White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., up until the end. Negotiators from both sides made clear, publicly and privately, that it was the biggest area of disagreement and almost led to the talks breaking down several times.

In the end, Democrats accepted new requirements for some able-bodied recipients in exchange for food aid. Republicans agreed to drop some work requirements for veterans, homeless people and others.

The federal aid program provides monthly funds to allow low-income individuals and families to buy groceries.

By 2025, new requirements will apply to able-bodied adults from age 49 to 54 without dependents — an increase of five years. Those individuals will be required to work or attend training programs for at least 80 hours a month if they want to receive more than three months of SNAP benefits within a three-year period.

Republicans have tried for decades to expand work requirements for these government assistance programs, arguing they result in more people returning to the workforce.

“We’re going to return these programs to being a life vest, not a lifestyle. A hand up, not a handout and that has always been the American way,” Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the vice chair of the House Republican conference, told reporters.

The White House countered that Republican proposition by getting GOP lawmakers to waive the work requirements for new groups — veterans, individuals who are homeless or facing housing instability and youth aging out of foster care — to balance out the number of people who would now be facing these new restrictions.

Several dozen Democrats in the House and a handful in the Senate voted against the compromise, arguing that the bill allowed for Republican hostage-taking and could open the door for future cuts to these government programs in the next several months.

Some of the most conservative Republicans in Congress have criticized the plan for being “weak” and are itching to make these programs responsible.

“In this bill, we have temporary work requirements, but we’ve added permanent new exceptions,” said Texas Rep. Keith Self, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus that overwhelmingly rejected the bill. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is a sleight of hand.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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