Tentative debt ceiling deal reached

House speaker Kevin McCarthy and his Republican negotiators have reached a deal with Joe Biden and Democratic negotiators over a deal that would raise the debt ceiling to carry it over until 2025, i.e. after the next election. There still remains the task of having the deal passed by both houses of congress before the X-date of Monday June 5. It is scheduled for the first vote in the house on Wednesday, May 31.

I am no federal budget expert but on the surface it seems like a deal that could just as easily have been arrived at without all this brinkmanship. This article outlines what is in it.

The agreement would keep nondefense spending roughly flat in the 2024 fiscal year and increase it by 1% the following year, as well as provide for a two-year debt-limit increase — past the next presidential election in 2024.

The agreement would fully fund medical care for veterans at the levels included in Biden’s proposed 2024 budget blueprint, including for a fund dedicated to veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances or environmental hazards. Biden sought $20.3 billion for the toxic exposure fund in his budget.

Republicans had proposed boosting work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents in certain government assistance programs. They said it would bring more people into the workforce, who would then pay taxes and help shore up key entitlement programs, namely Social Security and Medicare.

Democrats had roundly criticized the proposed changes, saying they would lead to fewer people able to afford food or health care without actually increasing job participation.

House Republicans had passed legislation that would create new work requirements for some Medicaid recipients, but that was left out of the final agreement.

But the agreement would expand some work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. The agreement would raise the age for existing work requirements from 49 to 54, similar to the Republican proposal, but those changes would expire in 2030. The White House said it would at the same time reduce the number of vulnerable people at all ages who are subject to the requirements.

Republicans had sought to repeal Biden’s efforts to waive $10,000 to $20,000 in debt for nearly all borrowers who took out student loans. But the provision was a nonstarter for Democrats. The budget agreement would keep Biden’s student loan relief in place, though the Supreme Court will have the ultimate say on the matter.

So Republicans got a bit of their desire to make life harder for poor people but not as much as they would have liked

Now there will be the inevitable discussions of which side really ‘won’ in this deal and whetherMcCarthy will be able to pass it with just Republican votes, which would be good for him personally, or whether he will need to get Democratic votes to pass it, which could make life difficult for him.

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