Debt ceiling deal between Biden and McCarthy faces its first major test

The bipartisan debt ceiling agreement signed by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the weekend is set to face its first big test as some GOP hardliners scoff of the bill before the vote of the Committee on Internal Regulations on Tuesday afternoon.

The committee will review the 99-page Fiscal Responsibility Act; if approved for consideration by the prosecution, the full House is expected to vote on the bill on Wednesday. Two of the nine Republicans on the committee — which is split 9-4 between Republicans and Democrats — are hardline conservatives who have voiced their criticism of the deal.

These members could try to kill the bill in the panel vote. If three Republicans and all Democrats vote no, it would fail, but even if some Republicans default, Democrats could save it.

If the bill passes the House, it must then be approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate by the June 5 deadline set by the Treasury Department to avoid a calamitous default.

Some Republican hardliners expressed opposition to the bill over the weekend. Rep. Ralph Norman, RS.C., called the deal “madnessand said the bill had “virtually no reduction.” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, posted a barrage of tweets blasting the deal as “turd sandwich”. Norman and Roy sit on the Rules Committee. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said the deal had “fake spending cuts” and called the bill a sign that “conservatives have been exhausted once again.

Those voices, however, may be a minority among congressional Republicans. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., a key vote on the Rules Committee, praised parts of the deal in a series of tweets, touting its inclusion of a measure he sponsored requiring the government to cut 1% spending at all levels if Congress does not pass the 12 appropriations bills.

“It’s in this debt limit agreement,” he said. tweeted Sunday. Although Massie has not officially said he would support the bill’s passage, his recent posts have not criticized the measure.

McCarthy and his allies have expressed confidence that the bill will pass.

Rep. Dusty Johnson, R.S.D., chairman of the center-right Main Street Caucus, told reporters he expected the bill to “absolutely pass” after speaking with “dozens of members.”

Rep. Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., touted new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office provided to some members of the Republican leadership that have not been made public, two GOP sources said. Estimates indicate that the Biden-McCarthy bill would cut spending by $2.1 trillion, slightly more than Republicans had originally projected.

Le Bice said the bill would pass with the support of both parties: “We will get there. There will be bipartisan support on this legislation. The president supports him. I think we are really well placed. Spending cuts are what we asked for; no new taxes, that’s what we asked for; no clean debt ceiling, that’s what we asked for. And that’s exactly what we have.

Meanwhile, senior White House officials worked on the phone over the weekend to sell the debt ceiling deal to moderate and progressive Democratic lawmakers, including holding breakout briefings and individual calls to answer any technical questions from lawmakers and their staffers, a White House official said.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Sunday he thinks a “vast majority” of House Democrats are “influential” on whether they would support the deal.

Progressives held a call on Monday to discuss the deal and appeared unstable about how they would vote. A source on the call said there were “lots of outstanding questions about the details of the deal and concerns about” issues such as “fossil fuel licensing, work requirements and spending cuts”.

The bill would extend the debt limit by two years alongside modest federal spending cuts and a series of policy provisions.

It would put spending caps in place for the next two years in order to set up the process of allocating appropriations. It would address Conservative policy measures by reversing about $28 billion in unspent Covid relief funds, eliminating $1.4 billion in IRS funding and shifting about $20 billion of the $80 billion provided to the agency through the Inflation Reduction Act into non-defence funds.

The legislation would restart federal student loan repayments after a long “pause” that began at the start of the pandemic. This would add work requirements to obtain benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Needy Family Assistance for those under the age of 55 (the current threshold is 50), with exclusions for veterans and the homeless.

In addition, it would overhaul the National Environmental Policy Act to streamline permits for projects.

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