The debt ceiling agreement negotiated by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy removed a major procedural hurdle on Tuesday night, just days before a potential default by the US government.
The House Rules Committee has given the go-ahead for the Fiscal Responsibility Act to go to the full House so members can schedule a vote scheduled for Wednesday night before sending the bill to the Senate. before the default deadline of Monday.
The panel presented the bill to the prosecution for debate in a close 7-6 vote.
In a big win for Republican leadership, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky — a GOP hardliner and tax hawk — voted in favor of the rule.
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“Today’s bill is the product of a compromise and reflects the realities of a divided government,” said Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who backed the proposal’s rule, at the start of the meeting.
In his own remarks, Massie said, “My interest in being on this committee was not to imprint my ideology. I think that’s an inappropriate use of the committee.” He then told reporters he planned to vote for the deal on the floor.
Fellow House Freedom Caucus members on the committee, Representatives Chip Roy of Texas and Ralph Norman of North Carolina, vowed to try to stop the bill from moving forward and ultimately voted against the rule. , with the four Democratic members.
“No Republican should vote for this deal. It’s a bad deal,” Roy said earlier Tuesday at a House Freedom Caucus press conference.
He also issued a veiled threat that there could be consequences if the deal goes through.
“We will continue to fight today, tomorrow,” Roy said. “And no matter what happens, there will be accountability for what just happened, unless we stop this bill by tomorrow.”
Rep. Scott Perry, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, dodged questions at the press conference about whether he would support a dismissal motion — a rule that would allow any House member to force a vote to try to remove the speaker.
“I will let each member speak for themselves. For me, my focus is on defeating this bill. What happens after that, and the deals we have, we will decide once we have determined the disposition of the bill in its finality,” Perry said.
McCarthy has ignored criticism from those in his party, particularly some who claim the party was “outwitted” by Democrats.
“How were we foiled, the biggest cut in congressional history, the biggest ability to take money out?” said McCarthy.
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Getting the bill through Congress will depend on support from moderates in both parties. The White House and Republican leaders have held calls and briefings to sell the deal, with more meetings scheduled, ABC News reported.
Lawmakers are facing a time crunch to pass the debt ceiling deal because Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that ‘X date’ – when the government could run out of money to pay all its bills in full and on time – could happen as early as June 5.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Tuesday that Republicans said they would get 150 votes from their party and “House Democrats will make sure the country doesn’t fall short.”
The NDP coalition, made up of about 100 House Democrats, endorsed the debt ceiling deal.
Asked about the vote tally, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young (a key negotiator in the debt talks) refrained from declaring victory, telling reporters she would leave that to the Congress.
“All I know is that when you enter into negotiations in good faith, you are not negotiating to see a bill posted,” she said during the daily White House briefing. “You negotiate to make sure he gets to the president’s office and we’ll do our part when he gets to the president’s office.”
The Fiscal Responsibility Act includes a two-year government budget in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling until Jan. 1, 2025. The bill would keep non-military spending steady in fiscal year 2024 and would increase levels by 1% in FY2025.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its score — or fiscal analysis — of the debt ceiling agreement on Tuesday evening, estimating that it would reduce the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
Interest on the public debt over that period would also decline by $188 billion, according to the CBO.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said his chamber would consider the bill as soon as it passes the House. He advised his colleagues to prepare for possible Friday and weekend votes if there was no unanimous cooperation.
If obstructed, it could push the chamber past the default June 5 deadline. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, previously threatened “to use every procedural tool at my disposal to prevent a debt ceiling agreement,” which he disagreed with.
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Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a rare moment of unity, both praised the debt limitation deal in floor remarks on Tuesday.
“I support the bipartisan deal President Biden has produced with President McCarthy. Avoiding default is an absolute imperative,” Schumer said.
McConnell said that while no one got everything they wanted, “the American people have made far more headway toward mental health than the Democrats in Washington wanted to give them. President McCarthy and the Republicans of the Chamber deserve our thanks.”
Ben Gittleson, Molly Nagle, Rachel Scott and ABC News’ Trish Turner contributed to this report.
Debt ceiling deal to prevent default narrowly passes first big test by key House committee, originally reported on abcnews.go.com