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Debt ceiling vote: House to vote on bill Wednesday before deadline

After weeks of scrappy negotiations that culminated in a bipartisan agreement, the House is set to vote Wednesday night on a bill to suspend the debt ceiling, as lawmakers race to wrap up the legislation and avoid a disastrous default before June 5 – the day the government would default without new borrowing limit.

The final bill — negotiated over the weekend by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — has come under heavy criticism from far-right Republicans and of some progressive members of Congress. On the right, members of the House Freedom Caucus criticized McCarthy for compromising with Biden and failing to secure deeper spending cuts. And on the left, more progressive members are dismayed that the agreement imposes new work requirements for some federal programs.

Debt ceiling agreement: here’s what’s inside and what’s not

But the bill is expected to move forward even if some lawmakers on opposite ends of the political spectrum vote against it. McCarthy needs the support of a “majority of the majority,” or at least half of the 222 House Republicans, to introduce the bill, per unofficial GOP guidelines. That means he can lose up to 111 members of his own party, but the bill would then require up to 107 Democratic votes.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, McCarthy was confident he could deliver.

“It’s the most conservative deal we’ve ever had,” McCarthy said. “Sometimes people just don’t want to vote for a debt cap.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.) told reporters Tuesday that he expects GOP lawmakers to “keep their promise and get at least 150 votes.” Jeffries repeated that message not because Democrats are running out of votes on their side, but because McCarthy stressed throughout negotiations that he could get as many Republicans to back the deal, according to two people familiar with the thought. of the Democratic leader who spoke on condition of anonymity. describe the party’s strategy.

If the bill passes the House, it go to the Senate for a vote. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) said lawmakers may need to be in Washington over the weekend to push through the legislation before June 5, when the Treasury Department warned that the United States would no longer be able to pay all of its bills.

McCarthy and Biden rush to woo lawmakers to pass debt ceiling package

Regardless of the final vote tally, the debt ceiling drama revealed deep opposition to McCarthy from some far-right parties. Republican lawmakers, including those who say he is unfit to be a speaker. Requested Tuesday how much confidence he had in McCarthy, Rep. Dan Bishop (RN.C.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, said “none.”

The Republican conference right now has been torn,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), who has spoken out strongly against McCarthy’s leadership, said at a Tuesday press conference. “And we’re working hard to try and get it back in place this weekend.”

That hasn’t stopped Republican or Democratic leaders from aggressively backing the bill. Between conference calls, press conferences and in-person meetings, both sides are trying to sell the deal as a win for their constituents, regardless of the concessions made.

For example, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the leader of the House Progressive Caucus, said Tuesday that the group is still talking to its members to see where they stand so lawmakers can decide whether to approve the bill. agreement as a unit.

“Negotiations require mutual concessions,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday. “Nobody gets everything they want. That’s how divided government works. But the president has successfully protected key Democratic priorities and the historic economic progress we’ve made over the past two years. Now , the House and the Senate, it is up to them to decide.

The bill passed a crucial procedural test on Tuesday, when the House Rules Committee cleared the way for the bipartisan agreement before the full House. Initially, attention was fixed on a handful of far-right committee members who could have thwarted the future of the bill by voting against it. But on Tuesday night, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), a libertarian-minded conservative who sometimes sides with the Freedom Caucus, indicated he would vote to push the bill forward, giving Republicans enough support for passing the rule and handing over a win to the GOP leadership.

The agreement raises the debt ceiling for two years and allows the government to pay its bills without a hitch if signed into law before June 5. In a concession to Republicans, the plan limits domestic spending for two years and imposes new work requirements on some people receiving food stamps and those on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. It would also cut about $20 billion from the $80 billion approved last year for IRS expansion.

Democrats, meanwhile, are touting that White House negotiators have not caved to Republican demands for deep domestic spending cuts. The deal would also raise the debt ceiling beyond the 2024 election.


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