WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) – Top Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy urged members of his party on Tuesday to support a bipartisan deal to raise the $31.4 trillion U.S. debt ceiling. Vote.
The gatekeeper House Rules Committee is set to vote Tuesday on whether to bring the 99-page bill to the full Republican-controlled House of Representatives for a vote. If the House passes it, it will go to the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Democratic President Joe Biden and House Speaker McCarthy both predicted they would get enough votes to make it law before June 5, when the U.S. Treasury Department says it doesn’t have enough money to cover its obligations.
McCarthy called the bill “the most conservative deal we’ve ever had.”
Not all of his caucus agreed, and he faced a direct challenge Tuesday from two of the three hard-line Republicans who were included on the 13-member rules panel as a condition of winning the speakership.
But a third, Rep. Thomas Massey, said he would approve the measure, which would allow it to clear the committee with a Republican majority.
“I look forward to voting on the rule,” Massey said, referring to the measure the committee must approve to clear the way for a vote by the full House.
Hard-line Republicans Reps. Chip Roy and Ralph Norman have previously said they might vote against it unless it is changed to their liking.
Roy said Republicans on the committee have agreed they won’t advance legislation they don’t all support, which could torpedo the bill before it comes to a full vote.
“Right now, it’s not good,” Roy told a news conference.
The panel’s four Democrats typically vote against Republican-backed legislation, but it’s unclear whether they would oppose a deal brokered by Biden.
A house vote on Wednesday?
A successful vote there would set up a vote by the full House on Wednesday.
White House Budget Director Shalanda Young, one of Biden’s top negotiators, urged Congress to pass the bill.
“I want to be clear: This agreement represents a compromise, which means no one will get everything they want and hard choices will have to be made,” Young told a news conference.
The Senate vote could extend into the weekend if lawmakers in that chamber try to slow it down. At least one senator, Republican Mike Lee, has said he might try to do so, and other Republicans have expressed discomfort with some aspects of the deal.
The bill suspends the U.S. debt ceiling until Jan. 1, 2025, allowing Biden and lawmakers to shelve the politically sensitive issue until after the November 2024 presidential election.
It would curb some government spending over the next two years, speed up the approval process for some energy projects, roll back unused Covid-19 funds and introduce work requirements for food assistance programs for some poor Americans.
In another win for Republicans, it would shift some funding from the Internal Revenue Service, though the White House says it should not cut tax enforcement.
Biden can also point to gains. The deal leaves his signature infrastructure and green-energy laws largely intact, and the spending cuts and job requirements are far less than Republicans would like.
Republicans have argued that steep spending cuts are necessary to control the growth of the national debt, which equates to $31.4 trillion in annual economic output.
Interest payments on that debt are expected to eat up a growing share of the budget as an aging population pushes up health and pension costs, according to government forecasts. The agreement does nothing to limit fast-growing projects.
Much of the savings will come from limiting spending on domestic programs such as housing, education, scientific research, and other types of “discretionary” spending. Military spending will be allowed to increase over the next two years.
The debt ceiling stance prompted ratings agencies to warn that it could downgrade US debt, which supports the global financial system.
Markets have so far responded positively to the deal.
Reporting by Moira Warburton, David Morgan, Richard Cowan, Steve Holland and Graeme Slattery in Washington; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Writing by Scott Malone, Mark Porter and Matthew Lewis.
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