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GOP opponents of Biden-McCarthy deal say waiver language makes budget-cutting tool ‘meaningless’

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House Republicans who oppose the debt ceiling deal between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are pointing out that language aimed at curbing expensive federal regulations is undercut by a section that allows the executive branch to waive that requirement completely.

Republicans on Tuesday were complaining about language in the bill that requires the executive branch to offset the imposition of federal rules that cost more than $1 billion over 10 years or $100 million in any given year. Agencies would have to submit a plan to offset the price tag of these costly rules whenever they are proposed.

But the provision also allows the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the director of whom is a political appointee, to waive this “pay as you go,” or “PAYGO” requirement if doing so is “is necessary for effective program delivery” or for “the delivery of essential services.”

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is hoping to pass the debt ceiling deal he reached with President Biden on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

That waiver authority was one of several reasons why some Republicans said they would votie “no” on the bill when it comes up for a vote on Wednesday.

“The Biden Admin is openly admitting that they will take full advantage of the PAYGO waiver authority in the debt ceiling deal,” Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., wrote on Twitter. “They didn’t just steamroll us in negotiations. They’re laughing at the concessions that were made. NO Republican should vote for this nonsense.”

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Rep. Andrew Clyde

Republicans like Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., say the deal isn’t as good as some GOP leaders say. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

He was referring to comments made at the daily White House press briefing earlier by OMB Director Shalanda Young, who was a key negotiator of Biden’s during the debt limit talks.

When asked by a reporter about the PAYGO waiver, Young said, “If that waiver is deemed necessary to make sure President Biden’s agenda is carried forward, we’re going to use that authority.”

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said the detail made the whole PAYGO provision irrelevant.

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Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., speaks with reporters after a meeting on the debt limit plan with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“Pay-as-you-go has some fine print under Section 265 everyone should read. The OMB director has sole waiver authority to spend if it’s ‘necessary for program delivery.’ So that one line wipes out PAYGO. These words on paper are totally meaningless if you read the fine print,” Mace said.

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Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., said, “This program is toothless and will be waived perpetually.”

He also pointed out an additional provision that said the OMB’s waiver decision would not “be subject to judicial review.”

McCarthy’s office did not immediately provide a response on the record.



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