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USDA climate funding targeted in debt-limit fight

The House Freedom Caucus called for the elimination of “billions (of dollars) of wasteful climate spending,” — a category that would include $20 billion given to USDA conservation programs — as part of an agreement to raise the federal debt limit. The group also said non-defense discretionary spending should be held at 2022 levels for the next decade, which could affect funding for WIC.

In addition, the group on Friday called for the restoration of “Clinton-era work requirements on welfare programs.” The 1996 welfare law limited so-called ABAWDs, able-bodied adults ages 18-49 without dependents, to 90 days of SNAP benefits in a three-year period unless they work at least 20 hours a week. Congress suspended the limit during the Covid-19 public health emergency, which the Biden administration has indicated will end on May 11.

Republicans hold a 222-213 majority in the House, so the Freedom Caucus is a powerful bloc in discussions over the debt limit. “Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy is not going to cut a deal with Democrats,” said Freedom Caucus chairman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania during a news conference.

The House Agriculture Committee said last week that it was “undertaking a thorough analysis” of whether to divert to other programs some or all of the $20 billion given to USDA land stewardship programs last summer as part of the climate, health and tax law.

To read the Freedom Caucus statement, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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