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

House Republicans are complaining the waiver renders the PAYGO provision 'toothless'

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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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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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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“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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