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As House debt ceiling vote nears, Biden bolsters Democrats, McCarthy scrambles to gain GOP support – The Denver Post


WASHINGTON (AP) — Hard-fought to the end, the debt cap and budget cuts package is heading for a crucial vote in the House as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy rally a coalition of Democrats and centrist Republicans to push it through. conservatives and some progressive dissidents.

Biden is sending top White House officials to meet early Wednesday on Capitol Hill to build support ahead of the vote. McCarthy is working hard to sell out his skeptical Republican colleagues, even fending off challenges to his leadership, in a rush to avert a potentially disastrous US default.

Despite deep disappointment among right-wing Republicans that the compromise fell short of the spending cuts they demanded, McCarthy insisted he would have the votes needed to secure approval.

“We’re going to pass the bill,” McCarthy said as he emerged from a lengthy meeting Tuesday night at the Capitol.

Swift approval by the House and later in the week by the Senate would ensure government checks continue to flow to Social Security recipients, veterans and others and prevent financial upheaval at home and abroad. . Next Monday, the Treasury said the United States would run out of money to pay its debts, risking an economically dangerous default.

The package leaves few lawmakers fully satisfied, but Biden and McCarthy are counting on majority support from the political center, a rarity in divided Washington, testing the leadership of the Democratic president and the Republican president.

Overall, the 99-page bill limits spending for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling until January 2025 and changes policies, including new work requirements for older Americans receiving a food aid and the green light for an Appalachian natural gas line that many Democrats oppose.

For more than two hours Tuesday night as aides carried pizzas to the Capitol, McCarthy explained details to Republicans, answered questions and encouraged them not to lose sight of the bill’s budget savings.

The speaker faced a sometimes tough crowd. Leaders of the far-right House Freedom Caucus group have spent the day lambasting the compromise as falling far short of the spending cuts they are demanding, and they have vowed to try to prevent Congress from passing it.

“This deal is failing, completely failing,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., chairman of the Freedom Caucus, earlier in the day, flanked by others outside the Capitol. “We will do everything in our power to stop it.”

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 desperate for votes.

Rep. Nancy Mace, RS.C., said after the “healthy debate” late at night, she was still no.

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

“There’s going to be a settling of scores,” said Rep. Chip Roy of Texas.

Biden was speaking directly to lawmakers, making more than 100 individual calls, the White House said.

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.

McCarthy told lawmakers the number would be higher if the two-year spending caps were extended, which isn’t a guarantee.

But in a surprise that could further erode Republican support, the GOP’s willingness to impose work requirements on older Americans receiving food stamps ends up increasing spending by $2.1 billion over the period. That’s because the final deal exempted veterans and the homeless, expanding food stamp rolls by 78,000 people a month, the CBO said.

Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jeffries said it was up to McCarthy to garner the votes of about two-thirds of the Republican majority, a high bar the speaker might not be able to reach. In the 435-member House, 218 votes are needed for passage.

Still, Jeffries said Democrats would do their part to avoid failure.

“I expect House Republicans to deliver on their promise and get at least 150 votes on a deal they brokered themselves,” Jeffries said. “The Democrats will ensure that the country does not default.”

The Liberal Democrats have denounced the new work requirements for older Americans, those aged 50 to 54, under the food assistance program. And some Democratic lawmakers were leading an effort to remove the surprise provision for the 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.

The House Natural Resources Committee’s lead Democrat, Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, said the inclusion of the pipeline provision was “disturbing and deeply disappointing.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, had this warning for McCarthy: “He brought us here, and it’s up to him to deliver the votes.”

Wall Street was taking a wait-and-see approach. Stock prices were mixed in Tuesday’s trading. US markets were closed when the deal was struck over the weekend.

The House aims to hold procedural votes on Wednesday afternoon with final action expected in the evening. He would then send the bill to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senate Leader McConnell are working to get it passed by the end of the week.

Schumer called the bill a “reasonable compromise.” McConnell said McCarthy “deserves our thanks”.

Senators, who remained largely on the sidelines for much of the negotiations between the President and Speaker of the House, began to insert themselves more forcefully into the debate.

Some senators are pushing for amendments to reshape the package from both left and right flanks. But making changes to the package at this point seemed unlikely with so little time to spare before Monday’s deadline.


Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri, Mary Clare Jalonick and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.


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