U.S. Representatives from Hawaii, Ed Case and Jill Tokuda, voted Wednesday night to suspend the nation’s debt limit and impose some spending cuts through 2025, which Tokuda says prevents a catastrophic federal default.
“The deal before us would prevent default. But let’s be clear: there will be consequences for individuals and communities in Hawaii and throughout our nation who will lose resources, benefits and protections,” Tokuda said in a press release.
In a statement posted to social media Tuesday, Case called the situation “deeply frustrating” and said he has issues with what is included and excluded in the bill. Tokuda similarly tweeted Tuesday that the deal is “far from perfect.”
The 99-page bill increases the debt ceiling currently set at $31.4 trillion and will reduce federal spending by $1.5 trillion over a decade. The negotiation between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was seen as a compromise that drew opposition from conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats. The House approved the bill in a vote of 314-117.
Case told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser before voting on the budget bill that he shares some concerns, including rule changes for “basic safety net programs” like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, more commonly known as food stamps. , which help low-income Hawaiian residents.
“These are critical programs,” Case said. “Families and people with families in Hawaii depend on them literally for basic life support, and I didn’t feel like we needed to change them and that’s a major concern.”
However, Tokuda said in a press release that he felt the current bill “did everything possible to assuage the worst demands from Republicans who would have cut programs that working families depend on.”
“With 22 percent overall cuts, veterans would have had 30 million fewer outpatient visits, more than a million seniors would stop receiving Meals on Wheels, and 200,000 keiki would lose access to Head Start programs,” Tokuda said.
Case also worried that the budget won’t address the nation’s “deteriorating federal finances.”
“What’s not in the bill is, as I said in my statement, any real attempt to address our nation’s long-term fiscal and financial crisis,” Case said. “I think this bill prevents that and we’ve been avoiding it for two decades and it’s critical.”
Case said he was “very concerned” about the more immediate risk of the United States defaulting on its debt, which economists predict could hit the global economy.
“We cannot stop paying our nation’s debt,” Case said. “There are a number of very severe consequences not only for families but for the basic credit of the United States and, indeed, the position of our country in the world. That’s why the stakes are so high for this particular vote.”
The bill also includes speeding up the approval process for large energy projects by simplifying environmental reviews and limiting the length of impact statements.
Case said these changes are primarily intended for “very large projects” that are located outside of Hawaii.
“I don’t know what the exact extent (of the impact) will be, but I think it will be minimal compared to any other part of the country,” Case said.
Tokuda said he hopes to completely remove the debt ceiling.
“This is not the bill the American people deserve, and I will continue to fight in Congress to get what our people and our communities need,” he said.