WASHINGTON (AP) — A package of debt ceiling and budget cuts It would avoid a federal default heading to the House floor late Wednesday as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans against a fierce conservative backlash and progressive dissent.
The hard-fought compromise pleased some, but lawmakers judged that if Congress failed to act, it was better than the alternative — a disastrous economic upheaval. Tensions rose later in the afternoon when Republican support fell behind in the practice vote, but the package eventually advanced as Democrats unleashed their votes in a show of bipartisan support.
A final House roll call was expected by evening.
As the debate began, Biden expressed hope that the deal he negotiated with McCarthy would pass the chamber and avoid an economic catastrophe over America’s debt.
“I think things are going as planned,” he told reporters. The president left Washington Wednesday evening for Colorado, where he is scheduled to deliver the commencement address Thursday at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“God willing by the time I get off, Congress will have acted, the House will have acted, and we’ll be one step closer,” he said.
Biden sent top White House officials to support the Capitol. McCarthy worked to sell skeptical fellow Republicans and fend off challenges to his leadership in his haste to avoid a catastrophic default in America..
“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, but historically, I want to be here today with this bill,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said when he arrived at the Capitol.
To the deep disappointment of right-wing Republicans, the compromise fell short of the spending cuts they had demandedMcCarthy insisted on getting the necessary votes for a roll call later in the evening.
He characterized the package as “a small step” toward bringing the U.S. debt burden under control and announced that he would next work on creating a bipartisan committee to more deeply address the budget imbalances.
“Today, America is going to win,” he said.
Swift approval by the House and Senate later this week would ensure government checks continue to go to Social Security recipients, veterans and others and prevent a financial upheaval at home and abroad.. The Treasury has said that the US will experience a cash shortage next Monday To pay its debts.
The package did not fully satisfy any lawmakersBut Biden and McCarthy relied on the support of the political center, rarely testing the leadership of a Democratic president and Republican speaker in a divided Washington..
In all, a 99-page bill Limits spending for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling through January 2025 and changes some policies, including imposing new work requirements on older Americans receiving food assistance. and the green light for an Appalachian natural gas tax that many Democrats oppose. It improves funding for defense and veterans.
Raising the nation’s debt ceiling, now at $31 trillion, ensures the Treasury can borrow to pay off U.S. debts it already has.
For days McCarthy has worked to build support among the skeptics. For more than two hours late Tuesday, as aides wheeled pizza around the Capitol, he walked Republicans through the details, fielded questions and encouraged them not to miss the bill’s budget savings.
The speaker sometimes faced fierce crowds. Leaders of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus blasted the compromise as falling far short of necessary spending cuts.And they promised to try to stop the route.
“This deal is failing, absolutely failing,” Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said Tuesday, flanked by others outside the Capitol. “We will do everything we can to prevent that.”
The largest conservative arm, the Republican Study Group, declined to take a position. Even rank-and-file centrist conservatives weren’t sure, leaving McCarthy to hunt for votes.
R. Nancy Mays, RS.C., said she was still up late at night for “healthy discussion.”
Ominously, conservatives warned they might try to oust McCarthy through compromise.
“There’s going to be a reckoning,” said Rep. Chip Roy of Texas.
Biden spoke directly to lawmakers, calling from the White House.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the spending controls in the package would reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over a decade, a key goal of Republicans trying to curb the debt burden.
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached a final deal on Sunday on a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
However, in a surprise move that could erode Republican support, the CBO said their push to impose work requirements on older Americans receiving food stamps. Over time that would raise costs by $2.1 billion. That’s because the final deal exempts veterans and the homeless, expanding food stamp rolls by 78,000 people a month, according to the CBO.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said it would be up to McCarthy to secure the votes, even as he assured reporters that Democrats would prevent a default. In the 435-member House, 218 votes are needed to pass.
As the numbers fell in the afternoon procedural vote, Jeffries stood quietly and held up his green voting card, signaling that Democrats would help ensure passage. They pushed a bill that 29 far-right Republicans, many from the Freedom Caucus, refused to back down.
“Once again, House Democrats must come to the rescue to avoid a dangerous default,” said Jeffries, DNY.
“What does that say about this extreme MAGA Republican majority?” He said the party is aligned with Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” political movement.
The Liberal Democrats rejected the new work requirements For older Americans, those age 50-54 on the Food Assistance Program. Some Democratic lawmakers have attempted to eliminate the surprise provision for the Mountain Valley Pipeline natural gas project. Energy Development Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va. is important to, but many oppose as not helpful in combating climate change.
The top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee is Arizona’s representative. Raúl Grijalva said it was “disturbing and deeply disappointing,” including the pipeline arrangement.
On Wall Street, stock prices fell.
The final vote by the House was expected in the evening. The bill will head to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell are expected to pass it by the end of the week.
“There is no room for error,” Schumer warned.
Senators, often sidelined during most of the negotiations between the president and the speaker, began to insert themselves more forcefully into the debate.
Some senators from both the left and the right are pushing for amendments to reshape the package. But with so little time left before Monday’s deadline, no changes to the package are likely.
Associated Press White House correspondent Jake Miller and writers Mary Claire Jalonik and Cheung Min Kim contributed to this report.