Update (2300ET): Hours after the House passed the debt ceiling bill, Axios reports that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gave Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) secret concessions to boost spending on Democratic districts in the form of "community project funding" in exchange for their votes earlier this evening, according to two senior lawmakers.
One lawmaker said the deal boosts earmarks to Democrats to bring them "closer to parity" with what Republicans receive in such funds in the GOP-led House. -Axios
McCarthy has told reporters that he didn't cut any deals to supply the Democratic votes.
Speaker McCarthy just told us he didn’t have to cut any deals with Hakeem Jeffries to get Dem votes to approve the rule for debt ceiling bill— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 31, 2023
When asked if he cut a deal, Jeffries said "House Democrats to the rescue to avoid a dangerous default and help House Republicans get legislation over the finish line that they negotiated themselves."
Asked if he cut a deal with McCarthy to help pass the Rule, Jeffries said over and her (not answering directly):— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) May 31, 2023
“House Democrats to the rescue to avoid a dangerous default and help House Republicans get legislation over the finish line that they negotiated themselves.”
More via Axios;
The backdrop: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, previously had told Democrats that they would receive significantly reduced funding for projects in their districts this year, according to Politico.
What we're watching: The deal could further inflame far-right lawmakers already incensed about the compromise bill that McCarthy cut with Biden. They've accused the speaker of caving to most of Democrats’ demands and not cutting enough government spending.
- Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), reacting to news that Democrats might have squeezed McCarthy on earmarks, tweeted derisively: "Earmarks! Sell! Sell! Sell! #NoDeal[.]"
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Update (2115ET): The House has successfully voted to raise the debt limit. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it will need (and undoubtedly receive) at least 60 votes to proceed to President Biden's desk for his signature ahead of a June 5 deadline to avert a national default.
71 Republicans opposed the measure, as did 46 Democrats, while 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats voted to back the plan.
As we noted earlier, the bill - which as discussed here does not cut real Federal spending even in year one despite widespread propaganda that In exchange for Republican votes for the suspension, Democrats agreed to cap federal spending for the next two years - would set the course for federal spending for the next two years and suspend the debt ceiling until Jan. 1, 2025 — postponing another clash over borrowing until after the presidential election. By then total US debt will be $35 trillion and well on its way to unsustainability.
Of note, in order to try and convince hardline conservatives to vote yes, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had proposed a bipartisan commission, at an expected cost upwards of $100 million, to outline future budget cuts.
"After today, I’m going to put a commission together to look at the entire budget. This debt is too large," said McCarthy. "We can be very serious about looking long term to solve this problem."
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Update (2115ET): The full House vote has started on the debt ceiling deal.
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Shortly after 4pm ET, the debt-limit deal cleared a major hurdle in the House despite growing opposition, setting up the legislation for a vote around 8:15pm on Wednesday night, a vote which despite vocal showboating opposition from various republicans appears destined to pass.
While the House voted 241-187 to take a procedural step needed to consider the measure, McCarthy needed votes from Democrats to offset 29 Republican “no” votes, underscoring the divide within his own party over the legislation as such votes setting the rules for debate are nearly always decided along party lines. The final vote tally suggests that the Speaker's position is becoming increasingly vulnerable... if only there was someone willing to submit a motion to vacate.
THE RULE for the debt-limit bill has passed. 241-187.— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) May 31, 2023
Dems helped the GOP get the motion for the Biden-McCarthy bill across the finish line.
Final vote later tonight.
Here are the 29 Republicans that voted no on the rule for the debt ceiling:
A) 29 GOPers voted no on rule for debt ceiling.
“I think things are going as planned,” Biden told reporters at the White House, before he was due to leave for Colorado. “God willing, by the time I land, Congress will have acted, the House will have acted, and we’ll be one step closer.”
House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, a Minnesota Republican, said early Wednesday that he’s sure the votes are in hand. “It’s going to pass,” he said even though he will need Democrat vote for the final passage.
If it passes, the bill will next go to the Senate, where objections from conservatives could force days of debate. But John Thune, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, said Wednesday that there could be a deal to pass the bill by Friday night, days ahead of the June 5 default deadline.
The bill - which as discussed here does not cut real Federal spending even in year one despite widespread propaganda that In exchange for Republican votes for the suspension, Democrats agreed to cap federal spending for the next two years - would set the course for federal spending for the next two years and suspend the debt ceiling until Jan. 1, 2025 — postponing another clash over borrowing until after the presidential election. By then total US debt will be $35 trillion and well on its way to unsustainability.
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As the deal to raise the debt ceiling works its way through the House, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (KY) is preparing for battle with Senate conservatives who are calling for amendments to the bill and threatening to delay the legislation until changes are made.
As The Hill reports, the bill is likely to get over 40 Senate Democratic votes, meaning it will likely need at least 10-20 "yes" votes from Senate Republicans in order for it to move to President Biden's desk before the June 5 "X-date" deadline set by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for the US to run out of funds.
On Sunday, McConnell came out in favor of the deal negotiated between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Biden's team, however he faces strong opposition from actual conservatives. Chief among them, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who has threatened to use "every procedural tool at my disposal" to slow down the bill. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has similarly thrown a wrench in the gears - demanding a vote on his "conservative alternative" that would cut total federal spending by $545 billion over two years.
"It’s time to go back to the drawing board or, even better, go back to what the House already passed," said Lee on Tuesday - referring to the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which would cut $4.8 trillion from the future deficit. According to Lee, the current bill "simply does not do what its proponents claim it does — not even close."
Last week, Lee said that if the bill doesn't include substantial budgetary and spending reforms, it "will not face smooth sailing in the Senate."
McConnell has pledged the nation will not default on its debts but he also has a responsibility as leader to help Republican colleagues who want to amend the legislation, which could delay it past the June 5 “X-date.”
“The Senate must act swiftly and pass this agreement without unnecessary delay,” he said in a statement Sunday. -The Hill
Rand Paul, meanwhile, says he won't vote for any bill to raise the debt ceiling that doesn't balance the federal budget in five years - which would require over $500 billion in future cuts.
"To us, it doesn’t look like cuts at all. In fact, spending will go up every year under that debt plan," he said of the Biden-McCarthy deal, adding "Mandatory spending is enormous; it’s over half of the spending every year. It’s going up at five percent a year."
That said, Paul says he won't use procedural amendments to slow down passage of the debt bill, which caps federal spending for two years, and allows Congress to decide how to meet those targets at a later date.
Also opposing the current deal are Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Mike Braun (R-IN).
"This bill leaves us with trillions more in debt & no clear path to less inflation or a balanced budget. I appreciate the work @SpeakerMcCarthy did to try & negotiate a good deal when @JoeBiden refused to engage, but I cannot support this bill," Scott tweeted Tuesday.
(2/2) Now is our moment to get America back on the path of fiscal sanity. Getting serious about America's debt isn't something we can compromise on.— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) May 30, 2023
If this passes the House, the Senate must take amendment votes and Senate Republican Leadership must stand with everyone working…
Braun, meanwhile, told reporters that he wouldn't vote for the bill unless it similarly contains major changes and amendments, adding that he won't object to speeding up the debate on the legislation if he and his GOP colleagues can submit amendments - even if they're unlikely to pass.
"You want amendments because you know they’re not going to pass, let’s be real here. The Democrats and the neo-cons in our party are going to get this thing across the finish line, but I want the process of being able to amend it. To me, that is a step in the right direction, because this all gives information to the public in terms of what could be done, even though it doesn’t get incorporated," said Braun.
Other GOP Senators on the fence include John Cornyn, John Kennedy and Mike Rounds.
"From my perspective, there’s not really anything to support until the House passes the bill. I’m waiting to see what the House sends us," said Cornyn.