A day after reaching a tentative agreement with President Biden to raise the debt ceiling, Chairman Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team launched an all-out sales pitch on Sunday to rally Republicans behind a compromise that was drawing resistance intense from the hard right.
To push the legislation through a restless and tightly divided Congress, Mr. McCarthy and key Democratic leaders must cobble together a coalition of Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate willing to back him. Members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus have already declared war on the plan, which they say does not mandate significant spending cuts, and warned they would seek to block it.
So after spending late nights and mornings for the past few days in feverish negotiations to get the deal done, supporters have focused their energies on making sure it can go through in time to avoid a default now set for June 5. .
“This is the most conservative spending program in my congressional service, and this is my 10th term,” said Representative Patrick T. McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina and a senior member of the negotiating team of Mr. McCarthy, at a press conference on Capitol Hill. Hill on Sunday morning.
House Republicans circulated a one-page memo with 10 talking points about the conservative benefits of the deal, which was still being finalized and written into law on Sunday, hours before it was released. . The GOP memo claimed the plan would cap government spending at 1% a year for six years — though the measure is only binding for two years — and noted that it would impose tougher work requirements on Americans receiving grants. government benefits, cut $400 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Global Health funding, and eliminate funding for hiring new IRS officers in 2023.
“He’s not getting everything everybody wanted,” McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill. “But, in a divided government, that’s where we end up. I think this is a very positive bill.
Mr Biden told reporters he was confident the deal would reach his office and that he would speak with Mr McCarthy on Sunday afternoon ‘to make sure all the T’s are crossed out and the I’s are dotted “.
“I think we’re in good shape,” the president said. When asked what sticking points remained, he replied, “None.”
Still, the deal, which would raise the debt ceiling for two years while cutting and capping some federal programs over the same period, was the subject of harsh criticism from both political parties.
‘Terrible politics, absolutely terrible politics,’ Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’, referring to work requirements for food stamps and other public benefit programs . “I told the president directly when he called me last week on Wednesday that it was telling the poor and those in need that we don’t trust them.”
Ms. Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she wanted to read the bill before deciding whether to support it or not.
Some on the right had already ruled out doing so before seeing the details.
“No one claiming to be a conservative could justify a YES vote,” Rep. Bob Good, a Republican from Virginia and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, wrote on Twitter. Rep. Dan Bishop, a Republican from North Carolina, posted his reaction to news of the deal: a puke emoji.
Russell T. Vought, President Trump’s influential former budget director who now heads the Center for Renewing America, encouraged right-wing Republicans to use their House Rules Committee seats — which Mr. McCarthy granted them as strove to win their votes to become speaker – to block the deal. “Conservatives should fight it with all their might,” he said.
Some Senate Republicans, who under the rules of this chamber have more tools to slow down legislation review, have also taken up arms.
“No real cuts to be seen here,” Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said on Twitter. “The Conservatives have been sold out once again!”
“With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats? asked Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, who has pledged to delay the debt limit deal.
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, was also critical – although for a much different reason. He called the deal too stingy, requiring stronger military funding, especially for the navy.
‘I’m not going to make a deal that slightly reduces the number of IRS officers in the future at the expense of the sinking Navy,’ Mr Graham said on ‘Fox News Sunday’.
But Mr McCarthy argued that Republican critics were a small faction.
“Over 95% of all conference attendees were very excited,” McCarthy, who briefed Republicans on the deal on Saturday night, told Fox. “Think about it: we were finally able to reduce expenses. We are the first Congress to vote for a year-over-year spending cut.
The deal would essentially freeze federal spending that was on track to grow, excluding military and veterans programs.
Rep. Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican and McCarthy ally, said House Republicans would overwhelmingly support the debt deal. He downplayed the right-wing uprising, saying leaders did not expect some members of the House Freedom Caucus to vote for her.
“When you say conservatives have concerns, they really are the most colorful conservatives,” Mr Johnson said on ‘State of the Union’, pointing out that some Republicans even voted against a more conservative proposal to raise the cap debt. “Some of those guys you mentioned didn’t vote for the thing when it was kind of a Republican wish list.”
Still, it was clear that Mr McCarthy would need votes from Democrats to get the measure through the House – and those may not prove easy to deliver, especially from the left wing of the House. Bedroom.
Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat, said he was undecided on how to vote but expressed anger over the negotiations, which he likened to a Republican hostage-taking.
“None of the items in the bill are a Democratic priority,” Mr. Himes said on Fox. Mr Himes said the legislation was “not going to make Democrats happy”.
“But it’s a small enough bill that in the service of not destroying the economy this week, it could get Democratic votes,” he said.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Minority Leader, said Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Biden would speak again on Sunday afternoon before the Biden administration briefs the House Democratic Caucus.
“I expect there will be Democratic support once we have the opportunity to be fully briefed by the White House,” Mr. Jeffries said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
But it was clear he didn’t like the position the Democrats found themselves in.
“We must, of course, avoid a stock market crash. We must avoid dragging down the economy. We need to avoid a default,” Mr. Jeffries said. “The reason we’ve been in this situation from the very beginning is because the extreme MAGA Republicans decided they were going to use the possibility of a default to hold the economy and everyday Americans hostage. .”