After days of political wrangling, House Republicans voted to pass a sprawling debt limit bill.
The bill, which passed 217 to 215, would raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion in exchange for savings of $4.5 trillion by capping spending at fiscal 2022 levels in 2024. It would also cap growth to 1 percent annually.
After cutting spending to fiscal year 2022 levels, which would be a $131 billion reduction from current levels, the 320-page invoice There are also ceilings on total discretionary spending or non-defense discretionary spending.
By passing the Reduce, Save and Grow Act, Speaker McCarthy hopes to throw the ball into President Biden’s court to spur talks, even as the White House insists he will not negotiate a debt ceiling.
The bill is not expected to go anywhere in the Senate, and Biden has already promised to veto the House bill.
But Republicans insist that passing a partisan bill means they have done their homework.
“We’ve done our job,” McCarthy told reporters after the bill was passed. “Oh I’m not going to talk to him until he presents a plan,” said the chief, “We don’t just have a plan, we passed it on.”
“Chuck Schumer has a bill. Take it, pass it — if you don’t like it, I suppose you should tell us what you don’t like,” Whip Tom Emmer told reporters.
The US is expected to hit its limit on Thursday, forcing the Treasury Department to begin using “extraordinary measures” so the government can keep paying the bills while Congress negotiates to try to avoid economic collapse.
The House GOP whip team spent the weekend contacting fellow Republicans to get them to vote on their debt ceiling bill.
Representatives Andy Biggs, Ariz., Tim Burchett, Tenn., Ken Buck, Colo., and Matt Gaetz, Fla., all voted against fellow Republicans on the bill.
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., who had previously said he would vote “no” on the bill, cast the final vote approving the bill, and the Republican side of the room erupted in applause.
With the prospect of a deadline that could lead to a devastating default that could quickly roil markets around the world, neither McCarthy nor Biden show any sign of abating in their demands — for Republicans, it is spending cuts in exchange for letting the nation borrow then. 31.4 trillion dollars. For Democrats, it’s a clean increase in the debt ceiling.
The deadline for meeting the nation’s $31.4 trillion borrowing limit is still unknown, and is expected to arrive somewhere between June and September.
McCarthy told reporters late Wednesday that he never contacted the White House about the meeting.
Asked how his party might argue for approval of a debt ceiling bill that could pass the Democratic-led Senate, he demurred.
“Now with the president still not negotiating what I know is I’m confident that one side has taken an interest in the debt ceiling. We’ve raised the debt ceiling so no one has to worry about whether the debt ceiling will be raised,” the spokesperson said. ‘We did.’ The Democrats did not. The president wants to make sure the debt ceiling is raised, so he signed this bill.
“Other laws we’ve passed say you’re going to veto, at the end of the day, you’ll probably end up signing this one as well,” McCarthy said.
Biden said earlier Wednesday that he was “happy” to meet with McCarthy as long as he did not use the impending debt limit as a negotiating stick.
I’m happy to meet with McCarthy but not about whether or not to extend the debt limit. This is not negotiable, Biden said.
The proposal includes a wide range of priorities – it would cancel unspent Covid-19 funds, cancel some of Biden’s priorities – ban student loan forgiveness and get rid of some green tax credits, and establish stricter work requirements for social programs. Republicans also want to include their sprawling energy package, the House-passed HR 1, and the REINS Act that cuts regulations.
After normally agreeable Republicans from farmland areas threatened to vote “no” on provisions of the bill that eliminated ethanol subsidies, those tax breaks were added back in.
Work requirements for benefits like SNAP and TANF have also been tightened after conservative hardliners wanted them to start sooner — now they’ll start in 2024 instead of 2025.