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GOP Pushes for Steep Cuts to Domestic Programs, Environmental Protections as Debt Default Looms

HeadlineMay 26, 2023

The White House says it’s nearing a deal to avert a default on the national debt, less than a week before the Treasury Department says it will run out of money. As part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, House Republicans have been insisting on large cuts to domestic programs, coupled with increases in spending on the military and at the southern U.S. border. Under an emerging plan, Republicans, led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, would agree to raise the debt limit for two years in exchange for strict caps on nonmilitary discretionary spending. President Biden said he’s optimistic he’ll strike a deal before the June 1 deadline. 

President Joe Biden: “I made clear, time and again, defaulting on our national debt is not an option. The American people deserve to know that their Social Security payments will be there, that veterans’ hospitals remain open, and that economic progress will be made and we’re going to continue to make it. Default puts all that at risk.”

On Sunday, Biden said he’d already proposed more than $1 trillion in cuts to federal discretionary spending, but Reuters reports the White House and House Republicans still remain about $70 billion apart. Republicans are pushing a proposal that would slash $10 billion in funding for the Internal Revenue Service to hire thousands of new agents.

Meanwhile, environmentalists are warning the emerging deal would substantially weaken the National Environmental Policy Act in order to fast-track federal review of permits for new energy projects. It’s a move favored by conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin that’s previously faced a number of defeats in Congress. Friends of the Earth responded in a statement, “Once again, lawmakers are expected to make the unconscionable decision to tack unpopular and environmentally harmful policies onto a must-pass bill.” 

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