Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday said work requirements for public assistance programs are a nonnegotiable in debt ceiling talks, laying out one of his first hard stances ahead of an afternoon meeting with President Biden and other top congressional leaders.
Asked whether work requirements were a “red line” for him in debt ceiling negotiations, McCarthy said: “Yes, it is.”
McCarthy said that he is standing firm on work requirements for the programs, despite House Democrats being against the idea.
“When you’re talking about work requirements, remember what we’re talking about: Able-bodied people with no dependents,” McCarthy told reporters. “It’s 20 hours.”
Biden had seemed to open the door over the weekend to beefing up work requirements for public assistance programs.
“I voted for tougher aid programs that’s in the law now, but for Medicaid, it’s a different story. And so, I’m waiting to hear what their exact proposal is,” Biden said.
On Monday, however, the White House apparently sought to clean up the comment.
“The House Republican wish list would put a million older adults at risk of losing their food assistance and going hungry,” Biden tweeted Monday. “Rather than push Americans into poverty, we should reduce the deficit by making sure the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes.”
House Republicans’ debt increase bill increased work requirements to 20 hours per week for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (previously known as food stamps) between 50-56 years old. There were also changes proposed to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and an outline for work requirements for Medicaid.