“Republican leaders exploited the crisis they manufactured to advance policies that could have never otherwise gotten signed into law.” — Emily Stewart 


June 2, 2023  
Contact: Jack Cardinal, (781) 960-5208, jcardinal@communitycatalyst.org  

Statement from Emily Stewart, Executive Director, Community Catalyst, on the debt ceiling bill signed by President Biden: 

“It is deeply troubling that the debt ceiling deal advances an agenda that is deeply unpopular with the public while billionaires and corporations continue to benefit from an unfair system. Republican leaders unconscionably held our nation’s economy hostage in order to make it harder for people to access critical food assistance programs. This disproportionately harms people and families already facing unfair barriers due to racism, classism and other forms of oppression.

“Forcing the nation to default on our debt would have had devastating impacts on our economy at a time when families are already struggling to pay for medical expenses, healthy food and other necessities. While we are pleased that our advocacy, and those of our allies, stopped dangerous cuts to Medicaid, the nation should never have been put in this position in the first place. It was a false choice and Republican House leadership exploited the crisis they manufactured to advance policies that could have never otherwise been signed into law.   

“Community Catalyst is working with our partners and advocates across the country to build the power of people to create a health system rooted in race equity and health justice, and a society where health is a right for all. We oppose any threats to vital services that people depend on, including the addition of bureaucratic red tape that adds unfair barriers for people to access TANF and SNAP as part of the final deal. All people, regardless of their identity or circumstances, deserve to have access to affordable health care, healthy food and necessities.” 


Additional background on the final bill:  

Rather than actually increasing the nation’s debt ceiling as in years past, the bill temporarily suspends the debt limit until January 2025 in exchange for a number of harmful policies that could have a lasting impact on the health and well-being of people across the country: 

  • The bill places caps on nearly all federal discretionary spending for two years but the impact of these de-facto cuts, which could affect critical investments in public health, will not be realized until Congress passes subsequent appropriations bills. 
  • Despite recent efforts by Congress and the administration to mitigate tax avoidance by corporations and the ultra-rich, the bill cuts $10 billion from the IRS budget, potentially hindering the agency’s ability to enforce existing laws and even protect people from medical debt. 
  • While the bill does not include proposed cuts to Medicaid, it does create new barriers in the form of red tape for older adults who receive economic and nutrition support through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) but does exempt former foster youth, veterans and unhoused people from these requirements. 
  • The bill undermines the administration’s efforts to protect people against student loan debt, ending the freeze on student loan payments and preventing the president from enacting any future freezes. 


About Community Catalyst:   

Community Catalyst is a leading non-profit national health advocacy organization dedicated to advancing a movement for race equity and health justice. We partner with local, state and national advocates to leverage and build power so all people can influence decisions that affect their health. Health systems will not be accountable to people without a fully engaged and organized community voice. That’s why we work every day to ensure people’s interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and health care are made: in communities, state houses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit http://www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @CommCatHealth