Summer Lee to Vote No, Excoriating GOP Hostage Taking Tactics Forcing Harmful Cuts into Deal to Prevent Default 

Summer Lee to Vote No, Excoriating GOP Hostage Taking Tactics Forcing Harmful Cuts into Deal to Prevent Default 

“We have the power to make this Republican’s last hostage crisis, but only if we take away the gun.”

Tonight, US Congresswoman Summer Lee released the following statement ahead of the vote to raise the debt limit and pass a deal on the FY2024 budget: 

“Over the past few weeks, Republicans in Congress showed their willingness to take us to the brink of a crushing default to force their cruel agenda through. They have proven time and time again their disdain for democracy and working Americans. 

“As a Black woman from the working class, I have an obligation to be a voice for the people, especially those most marginalized. 

“On behalf of the people I represent – I will vote ‘NO’ on H.R. 3746 – ‘NO’ to making it even harder for many of my constituents to access food and housing assistance they need to survive. ‘NO’ to rewarding those who took our Medicare and Social Security hostage to make it easier for their billionaire donors to cheat on their taxes. ‘NO’ to destroying the environmental safeguards that are so vital to achieving clean air and clean water in the Mon Valley. And ‘NO’ to allowing them to take our economy hostage time and time again. 

“Every single Democrat – myself included – is against a default. My ‘NO’ vote today is to oppose the dangerous precedent the Republicans set through their willingness to risk the livelihoods of millions and the full faith and credit of the United States of America in order to force through dangerous policies and reward their billionaire donors. They have placed their budget priorities over the poorest and most vulnerable. If we do not take a stand now, they will continue to do this with every chance they get. 

“President Biden and House Democrats drew a line in the sand and prevented Republicans from causing economic collapse. Without their negotiation, this would’ve been far worse. The good work they did does not, however, negate the heinous actions of Republicans who negotiated with the lives of poor people in bad faith. 

“I am standing with the people of Pennsylvania, because I can not use the poorest people as a bargaining chip, and I can not reward Republican villainy and their extreme tactics with more votes than needed to defer this default. 

“We have the power to make this their last hostage crisis, but only if we take away the gun. Just like our movement held the line to protect Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and SNAP, we must now organize to eliminate the debt ceiling – and their ability to manufacture a crisis every year – by abolishing the debt ceiling.” 

Lee received the following statement from a constituent who is impacted by cruel work requirements Republicans won as a concession (name available upon request):

“I’m 52 years old, single with no kids and I’m one of the people these changes will directly harm. Other reps have said these changes are so small as to amount to nothing but I’m not nothing. Others like me aren’t nothing. We matter. We are the ones without a family support system to lean on. We are all alone in the world and that’s hard, harder yet when you’re disregarded as meaningless by the government that is supposed to make your life better. Having been caregiver to four different family members over the past 30 years of my life and finally now left with NO ONE because that family I long ago gave up my career to care for have all passed away, I had nobody but at least i was grateful I was in a country who cared about me. Now I don’t even have that. The whole country is telling me and others in my shoes that we don’t matter to them. It’s a slap in the face and knife to the heart. I just wanted you to hear from one of the “nothing” that this hurts. I thank you for working so hard for us, I’m glad you are our rep and was proud to vote for you Please be my voice on the Hill. Thank you.”

Colleen Young, Director of Government Affairs at the Pittsburgh Greater Community Foodbank said, “The proposal to take away food assistance from very low-income older adults aged 50-54 will harm hundreds of thousands of Americans many of whom have significant health barriers to work. At a time when food costs remain high, additional cuts to SNAP will continue to drive our neighbors to food pantries to supplement those loses. SNAP must be protected as a critical tool in the fight to end hunger and as a direct boost to our local economy, supporting jobs for both large retailers and small businesses.”

(Contact: Christa Johnson, Director of Government Affairs at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, cjohnson@pittsburghfoodbank.org (412) 460-3663 extension 452)

Larry Swanson, Executive Director of Action Housing Inc said, “We at ACTION-Housing are relived and thankful that the deal Congress reached will prevent default and expand SNAP benefits for people facing homelessness and for Foster Youth in our community and across the US. There is no more urgent need in Pittsburgh and across our country than to build out a strategy that helps our unhoused persons through the challenges they face and help them find stability in their lives.  Access to food and shelter are the two key ingredients that start the process of stability followed by health care and then assistance in moving to stability over time.  We are confident that if we work as a whole community we can make an impact on lives for the better.”

(Contact Larry Swanson, ED of Action Housing Inc at LSwanson@actionhousing.orgor 412-281-2102)

Under the Fiscal Responsibility Act:

  • There are no budget caps after 2025. 
  • The agreement fully funds medical care for veterans, including the PACT Act’s toxic exposure fund at the levels included in President Biden’s FY2024 budget. 
  • Thanks to President Biden, the deal includes SNAP eligibility expansions for veterans, people who are homeless, and others, while also fighting to minimize SNAP cuts – equating to at least 78,000 more people eligible for SNAP
  • Given inflation, freezing current spending levels amounts to a de facto cut. 
  • Vulnerable communities, including people experiencing poverty, people with disabilities, and older Americans, will feel these impacts disproportionately. 
  • The debt ceiling agreement actually acts as a significant cut to affordable housing and homelessness assistance. In FY24 alone, HUD needs an estimated $13-$16 billion in additional funding just to maintain current levels of assistance. 
  •  Defense spending would increase to $886bn, which amounts to a 3% rise on this year.
  • Medicaid remains untouched in the deal, but the age at which work requirements are included for those on SNAP was raised from 50 to 54 
  •  This rule subjects individuals to a 3-month time limit (every three years) for getting food assistance unless they can prove they are working 20 hours a week or 80 hours a month.
  •  The bill would take back approximately $30 billion of unspent COVID-19 aid that would otherwise be used for rental assistance, broadband, small business assistance, and more
  • The Mountain Valley Pipeline provision of the Fiscal Responsibility Act would be devastating for communities along the path of the pipeline, as it exempts the project from environmental laws by forcing agencies to issue permits and prohibiting any judicial review.
  • If it weren’t for Biden’s negotiations lowering the ransom we had to pay backed by our people-powered movement, Pennsylvania would have lost $3.14 billion in funding in 2024 and $50.43 billion over the next 10 years. This would be devastating to my constituents in PA-12 – leading to more crowded classrooms, even fewer families able to afford child care, new parents lacking the help they need to feed their babies properly, malfunctioning water facilities, and less funding for homelessness services and substance use treatment.

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