The House has passed and the Senate is preparing to vote on an agreement between President Biden and House leadership to raise the debt ceiling to pay America’s bills to avert a global financial crisis by June 5, 2023. The agreement is a considerable improvement from the previous threats to cut support from those who need it the most. However, it still falls short of the legislation that the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA had hoped for, one that reflects the full potential of America, and upholds the obligation that we as Christians have to care for the most vulnerable in society—those whom Jesus had in mind when he emphatically said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me (Matthew 25:40 NRSVUE).”
The proposed compromise denies the IRS vital funding it needs to improve its ability to hold wealthy people who defraud the system accountable while weakening support systems of those who need help. NCC maintains that any legislation to raise the debt ceiling should not have extra conditions or cuts. We must honor the Imago Dei in each human being and preserve the integrity of safety net programs designed to help those in need.
In the weeks leading to this critical moment in our nation’s history, we bore witness to the worst aspects of partisan politics. Inundated by the disgraceful rhetoric that cast blame on the poor and defenseless, America was exposed to political gamesmanship that brought us to the brink of financial catastrophe not seen in 247 years. Congress must not hold the American people hostage in future debt ceiling debates. There should be no cuts to safety-net programs that provide food, health care, and housing for those in need to raise the debt ceiling, nor should burdensome eligibility requirements, such as time limits, be considered in debt ceiling legislation.
Congress jeopardized the lives of hundreds of millions of people—including families, children, seniors, and veterans—at risk of going hungry, losing access to healthcare, and foreclosing on their homes. The American people deserve better than this display of political maneuvering and toxic polarization.
NCC is committed to continue to hold Congress accountable for any future cuts to these essential programs.