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Biden and McCarthy close to claiming victory after long debt drama

For the moment, it is still an “if”. Negotiators won’t release full details of their plan until Sunday afternoon, after a final call between McCarthy and Biden – dispatching lawmakers and aides to search for trouble spots between their Memorial Day parades and picnics.

If a problem arises in either party, Republicans and Democrats agree it could significantly alter their whipping operations. Those efforts have gone well so far — especially for Republicans, with conservative leader Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) offering praise for the deal.

Even as half a dozen House Freedom Caucus members took to Twitter to beat the McCarthy-Biden compromise, none publicly signaled they were ready for revenge, despite talk in conservative circles for whether one of their own would end up ousting the speaker. McCarthy and his allies privately feared Conservative angst could trigger a vote of no confidence – one of the lingering threats in his bid for the presidency – but so far there is no sign of that brewing.

representing Ralph Norman (RS.C.), a member of the Freedom Caucus who was among 20 Republicans who opposed McCarthy earlier this year, declined to say whether the use of the so-called nullification motion is on Table.

“Not saying what I would exclude or exclude until I see the text,” Norman said in a message to POLITICO on Sunday, while saying he’s likely a strong “no” if the deal is principle he heard is reflected in the legislative language. “At the end of the line; I need to see what’s in WRITING.

While McCarthy gave some details to his GOP members on Saturday night, the White House won’t brief the Democratic caucus until 5 p.m. Sunday. Jeffries also told his members in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Sunday that the full Democratic caucus would also meet in person before voting on the deal.

Meanwhile, Biden officials have been working the phones as they seek to lock down the votes, with the bill due to be tabled on Wednesday. White House senior adviser Mitch Landrieu phoned a handful of Democrats, including Rep. wild susan (D-Pa.), Sunday morning. Another senior adviser, John Podesta, is also making calls, as well as White House adviser Steve Ricchetti and congressional liaison Louisa Terrell, according to another House Democrat.

“If all of this turns out to be true, then it’s a great deal and I’ll be happy to vote for it,” Wild told POLITICO of the emerging details of the deal. While she said she was holding off on making a decision until the text is released, she said it was important that Biden had protected programs like Social Security, Medicare and its own legislative priorities.

It “avoided a catastrophic default,” she said, and “we can move forward with sensible budget discussions.”

Not all Democrats are so satisfied. Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus privately argue that Biden could have gotten more. Many others are concerned about the lack of detail so far – especially on issues such as work requirements for food aid programs and energy permits, as they face a strong pressure from environmental groups on them.

There are also questions about whether the deal will apply Congress’s “pay as you go” rule – which requires new spending to be offset – to executive branch actions. This would mean that presidential actions such as the cancellation of student loans could require huge compensation. A Democrat warned that such restrictions “could be disastrous”.

White House officials, however, told some Democrats that the Office of Management and Budget would have the authority to override that rule — potentially neutralizing concerns, according to several people familiar with those discussions.

Policy details aside, many Democrats are eager to see their party work on a stronger sales pitch, especially after McCarthy and his GOP negotiators repeatedly stood in front of news cameras pushing their own talking points several times a day for weeks.

Many Democrats want Biden to play a bigger public role in selling the deal, questioning why he left Washington for Camp David this weekend. “Why the hell isn’t he here?” a House Democrat, who was granted anonymity to speak about growing internal frustrations, said his fellow members were asking for it.

Overall, however, many Democrats said it could have been worse. Several Democratic lawmakers and aides have predicted that at least 80 of their members will support the deal, with some believing the number could exceed 100 – depending on the latest details and messaging strategy.

McCarthy struck an optimistic tone on Sunday despite pushback from some to his right. He said on “Fox News Sunday” that 95% of his conference supports the deal, a Rep. Chipie Roy (R-Texas) disputed.

Either way, there are promising signs for the speaker.

Jordan’s praise in a private House GOP phone call on Saturday night was a clear victory for McCarthy and his allies. The Ohio lawmaker was optimistic about the agreement’s work requirements and spending provisions. This view was also echoed by Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). Both men, however, said they wanted to see the text before pledging their full support, according to the people on the call.

Jordan and Davidson are a welcome — and somewhat surprising — signal to rank-and-file Republicans who largely believed the party’s right flank was never going to support a compromise bill.

Others warned of stiff opposition ahead. Russ Vought, a former Trump official who works closely with the House Freedom Caucus, said conservatives on the House Rules Committee should try to block the deal from reaching the House — a move that would give more weight to Democrats. It is not known if Roy, Norman as well as Rep. Thomas Masse (R-Ky.) will oppose the rule, but Roy retweeted Vought’s pleas to sandbag him.

Separately, in response to a Twitter user asking him to stop the deal from passing the House, Roy replied: “We will try.”

Jordain Carney, Caitlin Emma and Michael Stratford contributed to this report.


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