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After crossing the House in a bipartisan vote, the Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal now goes to the Senate – Orange County Register


WASHINGTON — Moving away from a default crisis, the House overwhelmingly approved a package of debt ceilings and budget cuts, sending the deal that President Joe Biden and President Kevin McCarthy brokered to the Senate for a quick passage in a few days, before a fast approaching deadline.

The hard-won compromise pleased few, but lawmakers deemed it better than the alternative — a devastating economic upheaval if Congress did not act. Tensions mounted as far-right Republicans refused the deal, but Biden and McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition to push through in a robust 314-117 vote on Wednesday night.

“We did pretty well,” McCarthy, R-California, said afterward.

Amid deep resentment from Republicans who said the spending restrictions didn’t go far enough, McCarthy said it was just a “first step”.

Biden, watching the tally from Colorado Springs where he is due to deliver the commencement address at the US Air Force Academy on Thursday, phoned McCarthy and other congressional leaders after the vote. In a statement, he called the result “good news for the American people and the American economy.”

Washington is rushing after a long debate to wrap up work on the package to ensure the government can keep paying its bills and prevent financial upheaval at home and abroad. Next Monday, the Treasury said the US would run out of money and risk a dangerous default.

Biden had called lawmakers directly to build support. McCarthy has worked to sell out skeptical Republicans, even brushing off challenges to his leadership.

A similar bipartisan effort by Democrats and Republicans will be needed in the Senate to overcome objections.

Overall, the 99-page bill would reduce the country’s deficits as Republicans demanded, without undoing Trump-era tax breaks as Biden wanted. To push it through, Biden and McCarthy relied on support from the political center, a rarity in a divided Washington.

A compromise, the package restricts spending for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling until January 2025 and changes some policies, including imposing new work requirements on older Americans receiving food aid and giving fire green to an Appalachian natural gas line that many Democrats oppose. It bolsters funds for defense and veterans, and drains new funds for Internal Revenue Service agents.

Raising the country’s debt limit, now to $31 trillion, ensures that the Treasury can borrow to pay off US debts already incurred.

The GOP’s chief deal negotiator, Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, said Republicans were fighting for budget cuts after the past few years of extra spending, first during the COVID-19 crisis and later with Biden’s Cut Inflation Act, with his historic investment to fight climate change paid for with revenue elsewhere.

But Republican Representative Chip Roy, a member of the Freedom Caucus who helps lead the opposition, said: ‘My problem is that you made a deal that shouldn’t have been.

For weeks, negotiators worked late into the night to seal the deal with the White House, and for days McCarthy worked to win support from doubters. At one point, aides rolled into a pizza on Capitol Hill the day before the vote as he walked Republicans through the details, answered questions and encouraged them not to lose sight of the bill’s budget savings.

The speaker faced a difficult crowd. Encouraged by conservative senators and outside groups, the far-right House Freedom Caucus blasted the compromise as falling far short of needed spending cuts, and they vowed to try to stop the passage.

A much larger conservative faction, the Republican Study Committee, refused to take a stand. Even the rank-and-file centrist conservatives weren’t sure, leaving McCarthy looking for votes from his slim Republican majority.

Ominously, the Tories have warned of a possible attempt to oust McCarthy over the compromise.

Influential Republican, former President Donald Trump, held his fire: “It is what it is,” he said of the deal in an interview with the radio host. ‘Iowa, Simon Conway.

Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jeffries said it was up to McCarthy to vote for Republicans in the 435-member chamber, where 218 votes are needed for approval.

As the count faltered in an afternoon procedural vote, Jeffries stood silent and held up his green voting card, signaling that Democrats would fill the void to ensure passage. They did, advancing the bill that far-right Republicans, including many in the Freedom Caucus, refused to support.

“Once again, House Democrats to the rescue to avoid a dangerous default,” said Jeffries, DN.Y.

“What does this say about this extreme MAGA Republican majority?” he said of the party aligned with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” political movement.

Then, in the final vote a few hours later, Democrats again secured passage, leading the count as 71 Republicans held off their majority and voted against.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said spending restrictions in the package would cut deficits by $1.5 trillion over the decade, a major goal for Republicans trying to reduce debt burdens.

In a surprise that complicated Republican support, however, the CBO said their push to impose work requirements on older Americans receiving food stamps would end up increasing spending by $2.1 billion over the period. . That’s because the final deal exempts veterans and the homeless, expanding food stamp rolls by 78,000 people a month, the CBO said.

Liberal discontent, however, was strong as nearly four dozen Democrats also split, decrying new work requirements for older Americans, those aged 50 to 54, on the food aid program.

Some Democrats were also furious that the White House brokered accord changes to the landmark National Environmental Policy Act and approval of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline natural gas project. Energy development is important to Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., but many others oppose it as unnecessary in the fight against climate change.

On Wall Street, stock prices were down Wednesday.

In the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell are working for passage by the end of the week.

Schumer warned there was “no room for error”.

The senators, who stayed largely on the sidelines for much of the negotiations, are pushing for amendments to reshape the package. But making changes at this stage seemed unlikely with so little time to spare before Monday’s deadline.

AP White House correspondent Zeke Miller, AP writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Seung Min Kim and Jill Colvin and video reporter Nathan Ellgren contributed to this report.

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