The White House on Friday dug in with its opposition to Republican calls for stronger work requirements to be included in any budget agreement that would be paired with a debt ceiling increase.
“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,” deputy press Secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement. “This would be done through 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.”
The issue of work requirements has emerged as one of the biggest remaining hurdles for reaching an agreement between negotiators for the White House and House Republicans.
Earlier Friday, Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a top GOP negotiator, was adamant that Republicans will not drop their demand for tougher work requirements as part of a final agreement.
“Hell no, hell no!,” Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) told reporters outside the Capitol.
Republicans believe adopting tougher work requirements for social benefit programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will discourage recipients from abusing the payments and becoming reliant on government largesse, while helping understaffed businesses with a new pool of low-income workers.
Democrats have argued social benefit programs already have work requirements in place, and making them more stringent would only hurt low-income people who depend on SNAP and other federal programs for necessities.
Bates noted that some moderate House Republicans have been reluctant to support stronger work requirements as part of an emerging budget deal. He also cited a Pew Research poll that showed a plurality of Americans support providing more aid to the poor, as opposed to reducing aid.
President Biden was asked as he departed the White House for Camp David whether he would bow on work requirements, the president responded: “I don’t bow to anybody.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday warned lawmakers that the government will likely run out of funding by June 5 if Congress does not act to raise the debt ceiling by that date.