Kevin McCarthy says 'it's time for Americans to get back to work' and has a plan in place to overhaul welfare benefits in a debt ceiling deal

Kevin McCarthy says 'it's time for Americans to get back to work' and has a plan in place to overhaul welfare benefits in a debt ceiling deal
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California is pictured at the Capitol on January 7, 2023.AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
  • On Monday, Kevin McCarthy outlined his plans to raise the debt ceiling in the coming weeks.
  • He confirmed that strengthened work requirements for welfare programs is a part of the GOP plan.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has started laying out the stakes for Americans in his desired debt ceiling deal.

On Monday, the speaker delivered remarks at the New York Stock Exchange on the pressing issue facing Congress: raising the debt ceiling and ensuring the US can avoid a catastrophic default that could happen as soon as July.

After months of stalemate, and Biden remaining adamant that he will not use the debt ceiling as bargaining chip, McCarthy confirmed that the House will vote on a bill "in the coming weeks" that would raise the debt ceiling through next year while keeping federal spending at the 2022 level over the next decade.

Part of that deal would include strengthened work requirements on welfare programs, like the food stamps program called SNAP.

"Our proposal will also restore work requirements that ensure able-bodied adults without dependents earn a paycheck and learn new skills that will grow our economy and help the supply chain," McCarthy said. "Right now, there are more job openings than people who are looking for jobs. You know why? It's in part because the Biden administration weakened work requirements."


"Incentives matter," he continued. "And the incentives today are out of whack. It's time to get Americans back to work."

SNAP recipients are already seeing fewer benefits in the face of inflation, after lawmakers opted to wind down a pandemic-era program that bolstered how much Americans could receive in food stamps. On average, recipients saw their benefits drop by $82 a month, and older adults — like those on fixed incomes — saw their monthly food allowances depleted by $258.

"I want the lawmakers to come down to our levels of common folk," Tania Jividen, a SNAP recipient on a fixed income, previously told Insider.

"I want them to make it off less than $2 a day on groceries," she added. "I want them to come here and live my life and worry about it, and then go back to Washington, DC, and tell them how it is."

While McCarthy said during his Monday remarks that a default will be Biden's fault if he fails to negotiate with Republicans, Democratic lawmakers have expressed the opposite. Rep. Brendan Boyle, ranking member of the House Budget Committee, wrote in a statement following the speaker's speech that "House Republicans are in chaos and that's why today's speech was nothing more than a recitation of the same bad ideas and devastating cuts Republicans have been pushing — and Americans have been rejecting — for decades."


"The Speaker's blatant attempt to dodge responsibility and shift blame only underscores that the greatest threat to our nation's economy, the well-being of American families, and our record-breaking recovery is Speaker McCarthy and his MAGA allies," Boyle said. "There never has been and never will be anything fiscally responsible about refusing to pay America's bills, risking millions of jobs, or threatening economic ruin."