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House passes bill that would raise debt ceiling, strengthen Social Security by adding to workforce

By Sarah May
|
April 30, 2023

President Joe Biden has held firm in refusing to negotiate with the GOP over the debt limit, citing what he says would be “massive cuts” to key entitlements, but provisions requiring work as a condition of welfare in the recently passed Republican-backed debt ceiling bill could inject more workers into the economy, thereby strengthening the Social Security system, according to the Foundation for Governmental Accountability (FGA).

The so-called “Limit, Save, Grow Act” was passed by the House of Representatives Wednesday by a narrow 217-215 margin, and will, according to proponents such as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CA-20), limit executive power and slash government spending.

Debt Limit Bill Passes House

Following passage of the bill, McCarthy appeared on Fox News and described some of its crucial provisions to host Sean Hannity, asserting that the legislation will produce savings of over $4.8 trillion over a span of 10 years.

Noting that the bill does raise the debt limit but does so only a single year at a time, McCarthy added, “What this bill is, it's 'Limit, Save, Grow' – you want to limit the ability for the government to grow so fast like it did under Democrats going forward. So we cap the growth at 1% each year for the next 10. We save money by being smart.”

The speaker continued, “That...billions of dollars sitting out there [from] COVID [relief that was] never spent – we claw that back so the American taxpayer can save the money.”

“We put in work requirements to help people get jobs to move forward; help our supply chain and get our country moving again,” he added.

REINS Act Included

Notably, the measure passed by the lower chamber also includes the REINS Act, which would expand the Congressional Review Act to require legislative approval of any major administrative rule costing more than $100 million per year before any federal agency could begin implementation.

Also included in the “major rule” category under the REINS Act are regulations that would produce a major increase in consumer prices, individual industries, governmental agencies or geographic regions and those that would yield significant adverse effects on employment, competition, investment, innovation, productivity, or the ability of domestic-based enterprises to compete with foreign ones.

Having introduced the REINS Act in Congress earlier this year, Republican Rep. Cat Cammack (FL-03) heralded its inclusion in the debt limit bill, saying, “With the passage of the Limit, Save, Grow Act, the most historic regulatory reform in history – the REINS Act – is one step closer to law.”

“The regulatory regime has gone unchecked for decades, and it's time we return power to the American people, not the nameless, faceless bureaucrats in Washington,” Cammack added.

“A Bold Stand”

Lauding the passage of the Limit, Save, Grow Act in a broad sense, but also its specific inclusion of the REINS Act's provisions, FGA president and CEO Tarren Bragdon declared, “The House Majority has taken a bold stand and proven they are serious about pulling the federal government back from the brink of fiscal disaster.”

Noting that the Act's work requirements alone would produce $154 billion in taxpayer savings while simultaneously bolstering the solvency of the Social Security and Medicare systems, Bragdon said the Republican-backed bill is “exactly what America needs to get back on track.”

“Using the must-pass debt ceiling bill to rein in the out-of-control federal bureaucracy and restore work requirements creates leverage to tackle the two biggest problems facing our economy right now: burdensome regulations and strangling small businesses and a welfare structure that keeps able-bodied adults out of the workforce,” Bragdon added.

Praising McCarthy's decision to link the two measures, Bragdon said, “The REINS Act and work requirements are potent reforms and, when taken together, ensure that those returning to work meet a roaring job climate that is firing on all cylinders...House Leadership deserves tremendous credit for the monumental move to connect the debt ceiling bill to the policies that address the country's biggest challenges.”

What Comes Next?

The sense of optimism felt on the Republican side of the aisle following the bill's passage in the House may be somewhat short-lived, however, depending on how the Biden administration and the Senate decide to respond.

House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (NY-21) declared, according to Fox News, “We are the only chamber that has done our job. [Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)] needs to get to the negotiating table, as does President Joe Biden.”

Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise (LA-01) agreed, stating, “The negotiations need to happen on the Democrat side – in the Senate in the White House – not in the Republican-led House, because we had these negotiations and came up with a bill that saves taxpayers money and grows the economy. At the end of the day, it's President Biden who can no longer sit on the sidelines.”

However, as CNBC reported, as of yet there appears to be little change in tone from the White House, with Biden's Office of Management and Budget branding the bill “a reckless attempt to extract extreme concessions as a condition for the United States simply paying the bills it has already incurred” and reiterating the president's plan to veto the measure even if it does somehow manage to secure approval in the Democrat-led Senate.