WASHINGTON — Now that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have reached an agreement to avoid a first-ever default on the national debt, they turn to an uphill battle: selling it to their allies.
Both leaders projected confidence over the weekend over a deal reached Saturday night to raise the debt ceiling through 2025 in exchange for spending caps and other GOP demands. Biden, McCarthy and other leaders have less than a week to muster the votes to guide the measure through a splintered Congress.
It will be a complex dance, with both sides eager to tout the victories they have achieved without inadvertently backing the deal, details of which were made public on Sunday. The first test will take place on Tuesday as a critical House committee takes its first vote.
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Selling work began over the weekend, including a Sunday call between White House negotiators and House Democrats.
“I feel great about this,” Biden said Monday afternoon outside the White House. When asked what he would say to Democratic lawmakers who have reservations about the deal, Biden replied, “Talk to me.”
Even as lawmakers spent the Memorial Day recess in their districts, echoes of discontent reached Washington. Hardline conservatives said the bill would not deliver the scale of spending cuts they wanted, while liberal Democrats said they were uncomfortable with concessions Biden made on safety net programs.
What’s next for the debt ceiling agreement in Congress?
The House Rules Committee will address the debt cap legislation on Tuesday and establish a rule to put the measure on the ground. The debate could provide an early sign of whether Republicans who control the House will stick together in support of the package brokered by McCarthy and Biden. Complicating that effort: To win the presidency this year, McCarthy named several conservatives to the powerful committee.
Assuming the bill authorizes the committee and then the House, then it would move to a divided Senate, where any member could throw sand in the gears. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., warned his colleagues to prepare for a vote Friday or potentially into the weekend.
What’s in Biden and McCarthy’s debt ceiling deal?
The interim deal raises the debt ceiling until the end of 2024, meaning Washington won’t have to address the thorny issue again until the next presidential election. Among the main provisions:
Security net: The agreement revises the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program by setting time frames during which able-bodied adults 54 years of age or younger without dependent children can receive food assistance if they fail to meet certain work requirements. The deal contains additional work requirements for recipients of the Temporary Needy Family Assistance program, but no changes to Medicaid, which Biden had ruled out.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Debt ceiling: Biden, McCarthy push hesitant lawmakers to back deal