The NAACP president warns Congress that any resolution to the debt ceiling standstill that limits spending on federal aid programs «would disproportionately harm black communities» and that talk of expanding labor requirements «should be rejected outright,» according to a letter obtained by NBC News. .
«These proposals play on racist stereotypes disguised as sound policy,» wrote Derrick Johnson, head of the civil rights organization, in a open letter to congress shipped on wednesday.
In the letter, he laid out his concerns following reports that lawmakers involved in the debt limit negotiations are considering proposals that would limit discretionary federal spending on programs like Medicaid, Pell grants and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
Johnson wrote that he was especially appalled by proposals that would toughen work requirements for federal aid programs, something Republicans are pushing in talks, drawing the ire of Democrats.
Johnson called on members of Congress to know the timing. “To our many allies and partners in Congress who have come out to support Black Livers, we are grateful for your past support and need you to know: This is a time of choice,” he wrote.
«Do not accept the false choice between unleashing a totally avoidable politically driven economic catastrophe or imposing costs and further damage on Black communities,» he added. «We need deeper federal investments, not cuts, to ensure that all Americans can prosper.»
“The nation, especially black America, is watching,” he wrote in closing.
The letter was sent Wednesday morning to the White House, as well as to leadership staff in the House and Senate and other key congressional players in the negotiations.
President Joe Biden has publicly opened the door to some concessions on federal spending, but has vowed not to consider cuts that could push working people into poverty. In a tweet Monday afternoon, he appeared to rule out changes to SNAP.
On Wednesday, Biden said he would not «accept any job requirements that are going to affect people’s health medical needs,» adding that he would not agree to «go much further» than the job requirements that already exist and for which vote. .
«But it is possible that there are some others, but nothing of importance,» he added.
“The policies being proposed by House Republicans would eliminate health care for Americans and increase poverty,” White House spokesman Michael Kikukawa said in a statement this week. «Republicans couldn’t sign them into law when they had unified control of the government, and the president is fighting to make sure they’re not in a bipartisan budget deal.»
The House Republicans’ bill would require states to impose work requirements for some people in Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people that was established under then-President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and expanded with the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. .
The bill would also require able-bodied adults age 55 and younger to work a minimum of 20 hours per week or meet other criteria to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months every three years.
“Right now, a malicious group of lawmakers is trying to hold America hostage as they fight to remove key programs that act as a lifeline for millions of Americans, particularly Black families,” Johnson told NBC News.