Potential for Devastating Cuts with Republican Debt Ceiling bill Raises Local Concerns

House Republicans, including Rep. Kelly Armstrong, passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act, or as some are calling it the “Default on America Act.” As President Biden delivered remarks today calling on Congress to avoid default without conditions, Democratic-NPL leaders express grave concerns about the Republican plan.

North Dakota Democratic-NPL Chair Adam Goldwyn remarked, “Republicans always talk about running government like a business, but businesses that don’t pay their debts go bankrupt. As usual, their actions don’t match their words. Kevin McCarthy and Kelly Armstrong are too cowardly to stand up for North Dakotans against the extremists in their own party, and Doug Burgum and John Hoeven are too rich to care. North Dakota veterans, seniors, and parents will suffer if this plan goes forward.”

North Dakota Democratic-NPL Vice-Chair and State Representative Lisa Finley-DeVille (D-Mandaree) said, “The Limit, Save, Grow act will definitely limit the well being of many Americans that are struggling in already challenging times. Coming off of the Covid-19 Pandemic, our communities are still facing economic hardship and financial insecurity. While I support the reduction of the national debt, we simply cannot reduce the national debt at the expense of working families. Our members of Congress in DC must stick to North Dakotan values and support the communities that are facing detrimental affects on their quality of life by passing such extreme legislation.”

Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) said, “The kindest way I can describe the Republican Congress bill on the debt limit is useless posturing. I serve on the ND Appropriations Committee. We just passed our budget based on Congress passed already. If they back out, North Dakotans from farm to city will be really hurt.”

According to the White House, The House Republican plan would mean at least $200 million fewer federal grant dollars invested in North Dakota, including cuts that would: 

• Threaten Medical Care for 34,000 North Dakota Veterans. The House Republicans’ plan would result in 30 million fewer outpatient visits for our nation’s veterans all across the country. That means 34,000 veterans could lose access to outpatient visits in North Dakota, leaving them unable to get appointments for care like wellness visits, mental health services, and substance disorder treatment.

• Worsen Social Security and Medicare Assistance Wait Times for 148,300 North Dakota Seniors. Under the House Republicans’ bill, people applying for disability benefits would have to wait at least two months longer for a decision. With fewer staff available, 148,300 seniors and people with disabilities in North Dakota would be forced to endure longer wait times when they call for assistance for both Social Security and Medicare.

• Eliminate 800 Preschool and Child Care Slots in North Dakota. This bill would mean 500 children in North Dakota lose access to Head Start slots and 300 children lose access to child care—undermining our children’s education and making it more difficult for parents to join the workforce and contribute to our economy.

• Jeopardize Health Coverage and Access to Care for 34,000 North Dakotans. It would put health insurance coverage—and health—at risk for 34,000 North Dakotans. Only one state has ever fully implemented similar policies, and nearly 1 in 4 adults subject to the policy lost their health coverage— including working people and people with serious health conditions—with no evidence of increased employment.

• Withhold Vital Transportation Infrastructure Funding. Under the House Republicans’ plan, North Dakota would stand to lose nearly $4 million in funding for transit and highway infrastructure projects all across the state.

• Cut Support for Students with Disabilities. Under this bill, as many as 17,000 children in North Dakota with disabilities would face reduced supports—a cut in IDEA funding equivalent to removing approximately 100 teachers and related services providers from the classroom.

• Slash Mental Health Support for Students. It would limit educators’ abilities to address student mental health issues, including through suicide and drug use prevention, by cutting funding dedicated to creating healthy learning environments in North Dakota schools by about $1.5 million.

• Raise Housing Costs for 2,000 North Dakotans. Under this bill, 2,000 families in North Dakota would lose access to rental assistance, including older adults, persons with disabilities, and families with children, who without rental assistance would be at risk of homelessness. The House Republican Default on America Act would also mean as many as 100 families across North Dakota who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or attempting to flee domestic violence would lose access to emergency housing vouchers.

• Cut 140 Rail Safety Inspections in North Dakota. At a time when train derailments are wreaking havoc on community safety, House Republicans’ plan would lead to 140 fewer rail safety inspection days and 400 fewer miles of track inspected in North Dakota next year alone. Since the Norfolk Southern train derailment, bipartisan Senators have called for more rail inspections, not fewer.

• Deny 4,500 North Dakotans Access to Workforce Development Services. The House Republicans’ plan would result in 4,500 fewer North Dakotans receiving job training and employment services provided through the Department of Labor’s workforce development funding. These harmful cuts would deprive businesses of the skilled workforce they need to thrive, and would cut off worker pathways to good jobs.