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White House warns GOP-led House not to cut federal spending below debt ceiling deal

The White House declared that President Joe Biden would veto the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2024

Published: July 25, 2023 11:52pm

Updated: July 26, 2023 10:22am

The White House has fired a warning shot at the GOP-led House for attempting to reduce domestic federal spending in appropriations bills below the levels in the debt ceiling deal that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached in late May.

The agreement included locking spending at fiscal year 2023 levels for one year and allowing only a 1% increase thereafter through 2025. Fiscal year 2023 appropriations end September 30, raising the possibility of another partial government shutdown as a result of a stalemate. 

According to the Treasury Department, in fiscal year 2022, government spending "equated to roughly $3 out of every $10 of the goods produced and services" provided in the U.S. The deficit for fiscal year 2022 was $1.38 trillion.

So far into fiscal year 2023, the deficit is nearly $1.4 trillion.

The warning came in a White House declaration Monday that Biden would veto the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2024. The legislation was introduced by Maryland GOP Rep. Andy Harris.

"House Republicans had an opportunity to engage in a productive, bipartisan appropriations process, but instead, with just over two months before the end of the fiscal year, are wasting time with partisan bills that cut domestic spending to levels well below the FRA [Federal Responsibility Act] agreement and endanger critical services for the American people," read an extensive statement.

"The administration stands ready to engage with both chambers of the Congress in a bipartisan appropriations process to enact responsible spending bills that fully fund Federal agencies in a timely manner."

Harris' office could not be reached for comment Tuesday before this story was published, and House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, did not respond to a request for comment.

The House GOP is expected to debate the bill on the House floor and vote on amendments starting Wednesday. So far, more than 150 amendments have been proposed for consideration.

Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds has introduced an amendment that would reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly referred to as "food stamps."

Donalds wants to revise the program by establishing a "temporary bipartisan commission within the Census Bureau to improve income and poverty measurement, expand general work requirements to individuals ages 16-64, and hour-based work requirements to individuals ages 18-64 with dependents over six years old."

The amendment would also close the "broad-based categorical eligibility" loophole in SNAP and require "recipients to cooperate with fraud investigations, institute penalties for unauthorized uses of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards" as well as enhance "fraud prevention measures for food retailers, and reinstate the publication of annual SNAP State Activity Reports." Under the amendment, states would be allowed to "retain 50 percent of funds collected from intentional program violations for fraud prevention efforts."

SNAP benefits are a key part of the 5-year farm bill, which is currently being drafted in the GOP-led House and Democratic-led Senate. The last farm bill passed in 2018. 

The program has long sparked sharp disagreement – with Republicans concerned about waste, fraud and abuse and Democrats arguing such problems are exaggerated and reform efforts target the country's neediest. 

The Biden administration argued that the GOP's USDA and FDA funding bill could lead to staffing reductions at USDA, given that it reduces administrative funding below the fiscal year 2023 enacted level for areas such as the Nutrition Programs Administration (NPA).

"The bill provides $137 million to NPA, which is 28 percent lower than the FY 2023 enacted level," the White House also said. "NPA funds operating expenses for administering nutrition assistance programs and fixed costs. This reduction would lead to significant reductions in staffing levels."

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