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April 26, 2023

House narrowly passes GOP debt ceiling package, 217-215

Late changes to biofuels, Medicaid language secure enough support for party-line win

The House on April 26 passed, by a vote of 217-215, the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 (HR 2811), a bill assembled by the Republican leadership that would suspend the statutory debt ceiling until March 31, 2024, or until $1.5 trillion of debt over the current statutory limit is incurred (whichever happens first), while making trillions in spending cuts across a broad swath of programs and repealing a number of tax breaks enacted in last year's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), among other changes. The Congressional Budget Office concluded this week that the bill would result in $4.8 trillion in deficit reduction from 2023—2033, while also reducing projected tax collections by $191 billion during that period as a result of repealing IRS funding provided in the IRA.

Four Republicans voted against the bill — Reps. Andy Biggs (AZ), Tim Burchett (TN), Ken Buck (CO) and Matt Gaetz (FL) — while all Democrats voted against.

Attached with this Alert, please find PDFs of the legislative text of HR 2811 as introduced (320 pages); a section-by-section staff summary of the bill; and Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington's (R-TX) amendment with revisions adopted by the Rules Committee.

With only a four-vote working majority in the House, the GOP leadership was forced to make a number of last-minute tweaks to the legislation to accommodate a number of members who objected to various provisions. The bill is considered an opening move by House Republicans intended to draw the White House into negotiating the terms of a debt limit increase and is not expected to be considered by the Senate. Estimates for when Treasury will exhaust its "extraordinary measures," maneuvers that allow the nation to pay its debts in the absence of a debt limit suspension or increase, range from dates in June and July to as late as August, with the revenue brought by pending tax collections providing a factor that could bring the "X date" of default closer or extend it farther off. Treasury could release a new estimate of that date as early as this week.

During floor debate, Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) said, "We want to get this done as soon as possible, but more importantly, we want President Biden to finally start getting engaged in this process … If President Biden's got a better idea, it's long past time he puts those ideas on the table. This is not a problem you run and hide from. In fact, when you asked to be president of the United States, you're the commander in chief. You're the leader of the free world … These are the moments where you step up."

The White House has repeatedly asserted that the president will not negotiate budget and economic policy in the context of a debt ceiling measure. In a Statement of Administration Policy on April 25, the White House said, "The President has been clear that he will not accept such attempts at hostage-taking. House Republicans must take default off the table and address the debt limit without demands and conditions, just as the Congress did three times during the prior Administration … This legislation would not only risk default, recession, widespread job loss, and years of higher interest rates, but also make devastating cuts to programs that hard-working Americans and the middle-class count on. The bill would make it easier for wealthy tax cheats to avoid the taxes they owe, even as House Republicans are advancing other proposals that would spend trillions more on tax cuts skewed to the wealthy and big corporations, undoing much or all of the deficit reduction in this legislation."

Single Amendment of Revisions Allowed by Rules Committee

In a late-night session spanning Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, the House Rules Committee approved an amendment assembled by Rep. Arrington gathering several changes to the bill, in a bid to secure the votes of a number of Republicans who had opposed provisions relating to biofuels, Medicaid work requirements and other areas. The changes:

  • Struck the bill's sections 225, 227, and 228, that had repealed the tax credit for carbon oxide sequestration, incentives for biodiesel, renewable diesel, and alternative fuels, and second-generation biofuel incentives.
  • To restore savings lost by restoring the above biofuels and carbon capture incentives, the amendment rescinds unobligated balances of Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provisions dealing with energy-efficient building codes (Section 50131), energy infrastructure reinvestment financing (Section 50144), National Park System maintenance (Section 50224), climate pollution reduction grants (Section 60114), and transportation access (Section 60501).
  • Accelerated the effective date of work requirements for Medicaid participants from 2025 to 2024, and added language clarifying that one of the goals of the SNAP food stamps program is to increase work by participants. The bill's constraints in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program would now begin in October 2023.
  • Reportedly allowed some tax credits for those who locked in binding contracts or made concrete investments for sustainable aviation fuel or for producing other "clean" fuel between August 26, 2022 and April 19, 2023.

Overall Provisions of HR 2811

Among other provisions, the Limit, Save, Grow Act would:

  • Suspend the debt limit through March 31, 2024, or until the debt increases by $1.5 trillion, whichever occurs first;
  • Establish discretionary spending limits for the 10-year budget window from fiscal year 2024 to FY 2033 that include decreases in discretionary spending;
  • Rescind unobligated funds that were appropriated to address Covid-19 and $71 billion to bolster IRS staffing and enforcement;
  • Nullify President Biden's executive actions and regulations for canceling federal student loan debt and implementing an income-driven repayment plan for student loans;
  • Repeal or modify certain tax credits for renewable and clean energy, energy-efficient property, alternative fuels and electric vehicles (these sections were modified by the Arrington amendment);
  • Establish new work requirements for Medicaid and expand work requirements for SNAP benefits (food stamps) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program;
  • Require major federal rules (those likely to result in an annual economic effect of at least $100 million) to be approved by Congress before they take effect; and
  • Include provisions related to developing oil, natural gas and mineral resources, such as requiring additional federal oil and gas leasing, reducing or eliminating certain royalties and fees, and expediting the permitting process for various energy projects.


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
   •  Any member of the group at (202) 293-7474.


Legislative text of HR 2811

Section-by-section staff summary

Arrington amendment