by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sarah Westwood of the Washington Examiner reports on the latest development in the debt ceiling debate.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) fired an opening shot Tuesday in the coming battle between GOP lawmakers and President Joe Biden over raising the debt ceiling.
In a letter to Biden, McCarthy laid out the basics of what House Republicans want in exchange for voting to raise the nation’s borrowing limit.
So far, however, the White House appears uninterested in engaging with Republicans. …
… McCarthy wrote in his letter that House Republicans will prioritize “reducing excessive non-defense government spending,” but neither the letter nor public statements from members of House GOP leadership on Tuesday mentioned cuts to defense spending.
Republicans have split in recent months on whether spending reductions should include an effort to trim the military’s budget. Some lawmakers have floated the idea of eliminating bureaucratic layers at the Pentagon or slashing aid to Ukraine.
Others have said Pentagon spending levels should stay untouched given the global challenges posed by China and Russia. …
… House Republicans want to pad the government’s bottom line by clawing back unspent pandemic aid, McCarthy said in his letter.
The speaker did not specify which tranche of COVID-19 funding Congress would target or how much lawmakers expect they could recover.
Cities and states received $350 billion in pandemic relief money in 2021 through the Democratic American Rescue Plan; Republicans at the time argued that the sum went far beyond what local governments needed.
More than two years later, cities and states still have not budgeted roughly 32% of that funding, according to the Brookings Institution.
Schools also received pandemic aid well in excess of what they needed to bounce back from COVID-19. …
… Republicans have remained adamant that the most significant entitlement reforms — changes to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid — will not be on the table in debt ceiling negotiations.
But a more modest form of entitlement changes will be. McCarthy said Republicans want to impose more work requirements on people receiving government benefits.