Republican debt plan would hurt rural communities, Biden administration says

Cuts would result in 1,800 fewer food safety inspectors
calendar icon 27 April 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

The Biden administration said on Wednesday the plan from US Republican lawmakers to cut federal spending for a decade in exchange for raising the debt ceiling would cost rural communities thousands of jobs and billions of dollars, reported Reuters.

The House of Representatives could vote as soon as Wednesday on the plan proposed last week by Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Spending cuts in the McCarthy plan would result in up to 1,800 fewer food safety inspectors, which could mean a production loss of $416 billion for the meat, poultry, and egg industry, plus higher prices for consumers, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

There would be 2,700 fewer firefighters to handle wildfires, 125,000 fewer rural households connected to high-speed internet, and 84,000 fewer farmers and ranchers receiving assistance in implementing conservation practices, the USDA said.

Additional cuts to infrastructure development grants and rescission of funds for small meat and poultry processing plants would total about $1.5 billion, the agency said.

McCarthy's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a deal made early Wednesday morning, House Republicans removed a provision of the McCarthy plan, which was criticized by Midwestern lawmakers, that would have ended a tax credit for biofuels that was included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had also criticized the biofuel provisions on Tuesday, saying it would set back transportation industry efforts to lower fuel emissions.

The Wednesday deal also accelerated the timeline for expanding work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, in a concession to far-right members of the party.

Under the new version, expanded work requirements would go into effect in 2024 instead of 2025.

About 275,000 people would lose benefits each month under the plan, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

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