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The U.S. Capitol Building - Daylight
Press Statement May 29, 2023

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson Statement on the Fiscal Responsibility Act

The U.S. Capitol Building - Daylight


May 29, 2023

Contact: Chyna Fields,

WASHINGTON – Today, as Congress prepares to debate the Fiscal Responsibility Act to resolve the House conservative manufactured debt crisis, NAACP President & CEO, Derrick Johnson, released the following statement calling on Congress – before passing the legislation – to reject the statutory end of the student loan payment pause, protect critically important tools to fight environmental racism, reject a new PAYGO provision that would prevent agencies from addressing pressing social needs, and block onerous new work requirements for key programs. 

"Congress must pass the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) in order to prevent a cataclysmic default that would disproportionately harm Black communities. At the same time, it is critical that Congress reject specific provisions before final passage. The FRA would end the student loan payment pause, which provides a vital economic stimulus to millions of students. Black women bear the highest comparative levels of student debt relief because they invest in education at a significant cost. They also pay taxes. To argue, therefore, that the current student debt relief is a giveaway from taxpayers is to use a racist talking point. 

The FRA would also hobble the ability of Black communities to combat environmental racism by foreclosing, under the guise of permitting reform, a key use of National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) provisions to ensure projects have factored in foreseeable community harms. Such harms would result from the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would be fast-tracked by overriding community concerns in the current FRA. Congress must reject these provisions as well as a new PAYGO requirement that would block agencies from addressing pressing social needs. Finally, Congress must reject the amoral barter that cuts IRS funds intended to protect wealthy tax cheats while imposing onerous new work requirements on certain TANF and SNAP recipients.

Let's be clear: while the original intent of the debt ceiling was to solve a practical challenge of paying the nation's bills during World War I, it has become a weapon used by conservative extremists to hold the lives and livelihoods of Black America – and countless others – hostage. The NAACP calls on Congress and the Administration to end this practice before it can again be used to inflict more harm on Black America." 




The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.

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