Debt Ceiling Bill Cleared For House Vote, Passage Likely

The Fiscal Responsibility Act cleared its last procedural hurdle, paving the way for an up-or-down vote on the measure by the full House…

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he House approved a rule to limit debate on the bill and bar any amendments to the bill in a bipartisan vote of 241 to 187. The bill represents a compromise agreed to by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to suspend the nation’s debt ceiling through Jan. 1, 2025, while cutting non-defense discretionary spending slightly in 2024 and increasing it by 1 percent in 2025.

The bill also contains permitting reforms for oil and gas drilling, changes to work requirements for some social welfare programs and clawbacks of $20 billion in IRS funding and $30 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief funds.

According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, In the absence of congressional action to allow additional borrowing, the United States would lack the ready cash to pay all of its bills on June 5.

Eventual passage of the bill is likely as the leadership teams for both parties in the House have endorsed it and members on both sides of the aisle have pledged their support.

Bipartisan Support

McCarthy presented the bill as a win for Republicans. “I believe this is an agreement in principle that’s worthy of the American people,” McCarthy told reporters on May 29. “It has historic reductions in spending, consequential reforms that will lift people out of poverty into the workforce, and reign in government overreach. I’m confident we’ll pass the bill,” McCarthy said.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) pledged unreserved support for the bill despite concerns about some of its content. “I made it clear that I’m going to support the legislation that is on the floor today, and I have supported it without hesitation, reservation, or trepidation,” Jeffries said at a morning press conference. “Not because it’s perfect. But in a divided government, we cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.”

Some members of the House Freedom Caucus have vocally opposed the legislation because it did not adhere to the stricter provisions of the original bill, the Limit, Save, Grow Act. They accused McCarthy of squandering the negotiating power gained by passing that bill in April.

Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said the deal traded “at least $4 trillion in debt for nothing, from the strongest position a Republican has had generally, and certainly in our elected lifetime. This deal fails, fails completely,” Perry said.

As of the morning of May 31, about 30 of the 222 House Republicans opposed the bill. Some Democrats voiced opposition to the bill because it makes changes to social welfare programs that would cause some people to lose benefits.

Passage Likely

However, support for the measure gained momentum during the day on May 31. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, announced her support on Twitter at midday.

“The consensus on the Hill is that it’s going to pass,” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) said before the rules vote, though he planned to vote against it.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich expects the bill to pass despite opposition from the far-right and far-left. “I sat down over a week ago with Congressman Tom Emmer, who is the [Republican] whip,” Gingrich said. “I was very, very impressed.”

“They talk with every single member virtually every day, and I think they’ve got a pretty good sense of it. My guess is they’ll get 140 to 150 Republicans, maybe slightly more than that, because there’s a momentum that builds,” Gingrich said.

“I think at the end of the day, they will have the votes to pass it,” Harold Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute told The Epoch Times. “But I would call it under duress.”

UPDATE:

“They have a gun pointed at their head, which is that you default or you vote for a very imperfect bill. That’s the Hobson’s choice that the members are facing.” The House is scheduled to vote on the Fiscal Responsibility Act tonight. ✪

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