The White House pushed back aggressively late Friday on the GOP effort to add new work requirements to social safety net programs as part of the debt deal, signaling a deepening divide between the two camps on the issue even as outlines of other parts of a potential spending agreement emerged.
“House Republicans are threatening to trigger an unprecedented recession and cost the American people over 8 million jobs unless they can take food out of the mouths of hungry Americans,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to POLITICO. He cited GOP demands for “new, additional work requirements designed to tie the most vulnerable up in bureaucratic paperwork, which have shown no benefit for bringing more people into the workforce.”
Bates criticized Republicans for pushing new work requirements for deficit reduction while trying to permanently extend the Trump tax cuts, which CBO recently estimated would cost $3.5 trillion.
“President Biden and House Democrats are standing against this cruel and senseless tradeoff,” Bates added.
Work requirements have been a major sticking point in the ongoing talks. Republicans are seeking to add them to programs that help low-income families — specifically SNAP and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs, both of which already contain some form of work requirements. But they appear to have backed down from earlier efforts to add new layers of work requirements to Medicaid.
Earlier Friday, Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s emissary in the negotiations, said Republicans need work requirements in a deal. “Hell no,” he said when asked by a reporter whether the GOP would back down on the issue.
Congressional lawmakers and the White House were expected to continue debt negotiations through the weekend. But both sides got a bit of a reprieve Friday night when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent Congress a new estimate that showed the default deadline to be June 5, four days later than the previous estimate.
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