Right now, Congress must decide what to do about the debt ceiling. Congress’ decisions could have a BIG impact on people with disabilities and their families.

What is the debt ceiling?

The federal government regularly borrows money to pay for things.

The debt ceiling is the largest amount of money the federal government can borrow at one time. It can’t borrow more than the debt ceiling allows.

When the government gets close to hitting the debt ceiling, Congress must decide whether to:

  • Raise the debt ceiling, so the government can borrow more money to pay for things, or
  • Do nothing and fail to pay for the things it promised to do.

So far, Congress has always raised the debt ceiling.

This has happened 78 times since 1960.

Congress typically raises the debt ceiling high enough to last only a short time, from a few months to a few years.

What is happening with the debt ceiling now?

The United States will approach the debt ceiling again this summer.

On March 28, the Speaker of the House sent a letter to President Biden about the debt ceiling.

The Speaker wants money cut for some government programs as part of the agreement to raise the debt ceiling.

The Speaker is the leader of the House of Representatives.

He has a lot of power in Congress.

Without his support, Congress may not be able to agree to raise the debt ceiling.

What happens if Congress decides not to raise the debt ceiling?

If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the federal government may not be able to pay for important things like:

  • Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Our military and the salaries of military service members
  • Tax Refunds
  • And many more programs and services

The economy and stock market could also have trouble. It may cost people even more money to get a loan, and people could lose their jobs.

Everyone may struggle if Congress does not increase the debt ceiling.

But people with disabilities who depend on government services may be hurt more if the programs and services they need stop.

Why do debt ceiling debates matter for people with disabilities?

Leaders in Congress have decided not to cut Medicare or Social Security as part of any debt ceiling agreement.

But other essential benefits, like Medicaid and SNAP, could still be cut.

These services already don’t have enough money to support everyone who is eligible for them.

Cutting them more would hurt people with disabilities and their families who rely on them.

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