U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to the media at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on April 26, 2023.

U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to the media at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on April 26, 2023.

(Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

'MAGA Economic Sabotage': 217 House Republicans Pass Debt Ceiling Bill With Harmful Cuts

"Republicans just passed a bill that would kill jobs, take away federal benefits for millions, and make everyday life for Americans more expensive," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. "This is completely unworkable."

A wide range of advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday fiercely denounced Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives for narrowly passing their "debt ceiling scam" containing "extreme, harmful cuts against average Americans to protect billionaire tax breaks."

The so-called the Limit, Save, Grow Act was unveiled last week by GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and passed 217-215, with just four Republicans—Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Tim Burchett (Tenn.), and Matt Gaetz (Fla.)—joining Democratic opponents and three lawmakers not voting.

Although the House GOP bill would raise the federal government's arbitrary borrowing limit, averting a first-ever default that would be catastrophic for the U.S. and global economies, the legislation would also cap spending over the next decade, impose fossil fuel-friendly energy policies, restrict regulations, add work requirements for social programs, block President Joe Biden's contested student debt relief plan, and repeal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funds intended to reduce tax-dodging.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has already said the bill is "dead on arrival" in the upper chamber and Biden has also slammed Republicans' attempted cuts, but given the risks of both the proposal and a potential default, critics still shared their outrage over the vote.

"Nearly every Republican in the U.S. House just voted to slash the already inadequate funding of the Social Security Administration (SSA)," said Social Security Works executive director Alex Lawson in a statement.

"Cuts to SSA are cuts to Social Security, and we will hold every single one of these members accountable," he added. "This vote shows that Republicans are united in support of cutting Social Security, while Democrats are united in support of a clean debt limit increase with no cuts to Social Security or any other benefits."

Also noting that the "dangerous" bill includes SSA cuts, which would force office closures and layoffs, delaying services for seniors, Alliance for Retired Americans executive director Richard Fiesta asserted that "a political party's budget reflects its values, and clearly the GOP does not value older Americans."

"The bill also slashes food assistance for more than 1 million low-income seniors—many of whom rely on government food programs to get their only meal of the day," he said. "It will cut oversight of nursing homes, putting thousands of the most vulnerable seniors at risk of living in alarming and unsanitary conditions. This is reckless and irresponsible."

"In addition, this bill jeopardizes millions of Americans' multiemployer pensions that are guaranteed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation," Fiesta continued. "Finally, it would lead to the eviction of at least 430,000 low-income families from Section 8 housing, 80% of which are headed by seniors."

Climate Action Campaign director Margie Alt charged that "with this vote, House Republicans showed us who they're really looking out for—the Big Oil companies and other corporate polluters whose profits they enhanced at the expense of the health and livelihoods of everyday Americans."

The Republican proposal would reverse some the Inflation Reduction Act's progress on jobs and environmental justice, and "ironically, the consequences would fall most heavily on red states," Alt noted. "In addition to a public health and environmental tragedy, this bill will create economic disaster. Every second we delay acting on climate costs Americans in lives lost, economic harm, and environmental degradation."

Earthjustice vice president of policy and legislation Raúl García argued that Wednesday's vote shows "Speaker McCarthy is willing to cave to the most extremist voices in his party to further their anti-clean energy and pro-polluter agenda."

"It's not a serious proposal, but instead a litany of damaging policies aimed at sacrificing the health and safety of our communities and catering to polluting industries," García said. "It's shameful that McCarthy and House Republicans are willing to hold our economy hostage, force the federal government into default, and sacrifice the creation of countless jobs in their districts at the behest of their corporate donors."

Leading up to the vote, the bill's opponents have pointed out that while House Republicans claim cuts are necessary for any bill that allows additional debt, in 2017, GOP lawmakers passed and then-President Donald Trump signed a law to provide corporations and rich individuals with tax breaks, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would increase the federal deficit by nearly $2 trillion over a decade.

"The MAGA House majority demands everyday Americans, from veterans to seniors to children, brace for harmful cuts while they protect every cent of the debt-ballooning Trump tax breaks for billionaires and corporations," declared Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, after the bill passed the chamber.

"House Republicans even lined up to gut resources needed to crack down on wealthy tax cheats, a foolhardy move that actually adds over $100 billion to the debt," he stressed, flagging the IRS cuts. "MAGA extremists insist millions of Americans give up health and food security, good-paying manufacturing jobs, and public safety at the same time they shamelessly propose trillions more in new tax giveaways for big corporations that never trickle down to anyone else and fuel the deficit."

"The MAGA majority offers nothing but a lose-lose proposition: harmful cuts that leave everyday Americans worse off—or a default crisis that crashes the economy, disrupts Social Security checks, and skyrockets interest rates on car loans and mortgages," Herrig added. "That's no choice—that's MAGA economic sabotage."

According to Patriotic Millionaires chair Morris Pearl, who also slammed the "draconian cuts" to social programs and IRS rollback, "The new House debt ceiling plan proves that the GOP really only cares about the rich."

"The new House debt ceiling plan proves that the GOP really only cares about the rich."

"The House GOP just told America that they believe it is more important to make sure rich tax cheats can get away with breaking the law than it is to make sure poor families have access to food and healthcare," Pearl said. "This isn't a genuine attempt to balance the federal budget, it's just another extremist step by the GOP to cut critical social services in order to protect the wealth of tax cheats in the top 1%."

Democrats in both chambers of Congress on Wednesday renewed demands for raising the debt limit without any attached policies.

"Republicans just passed a bill that would kill jobs, take away federal benefits for millions, and make everyday life for Americans more expensive. This is completely unworkable," said Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). "Let's pass a clean debt ceiling increase."

Blasting the bill as "a ransom note to the American people to suffer the Republican radical, right-wing agenda or suffer a catastrophic default," Schumer pledged Wednesday evening that "Democrats won't allow it."

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