In a recent hearing, Senate Democrats pressured Republicans on the debt ceiling impasse, highlighting the expected reductions in government services if the House bill becomes law. However, many experts agree that the House bill, which proposes to increase the borrowing authority while cutting spending, is unlikely to reach President Joe Biden’s desk because the Democratic Senate won’t allow it. Despite this, Democrats want to tie Republicans, particularly in swing districts and states, to various provisions in the bill, including one that would cap next year’s spending at 2022 levels and allow it to rise only 1% annually in ensuing years. This change, which accounts for most of the projected $4.8 trillion in savings, could have severe impacts on programs such as Head Start and Meals on Wheels, cancer research, and veterans’ health care. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer accuses Republicans of having a terrible bill, and the House bill has been called out for reducing deficits over 10 years by clawing back unspent COVID aid, removing the clean energy tax credits that Biden signed into law last year, and reversing Biden’s student debt forgiveness and repayment plan.
While Republicans argue that reduced spending is necessary to curb inflation, Democrats mock the rationale and argue that Republicans seek to interfere with government functioning, causing chaos. The jousting in Congress over the debt limit has become increasingly urgent as the Treasury Department announced that the extraordinary measures being used to avoid a devastating government default could run out on June 1, giving lawmakers just a few weeks to find a solution. Meanwhile, economic experts weigh in, warning that reduced spending could result in significant job losses and increase the likelihood of a recession. Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, believes that all legislative avenues should remain open to address the nation’s debt, which currently stands at over $31 trillion. Chief economist at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Jason Fichtner, recognizes the debt limit as an opportunity currently present and available to address the nation’s fiscal challenges, despite its flaws.