House passes debt ceiling bill on bipartisan vote

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation negotiated by President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy to suspend the debt ceiling and set federal spending limits, with a broad bipartisan coalition lining up for a critical vote to pull the nation back from the brink of economic disaster.

The bill would delay the federal debt ceiling for two years — allowing the government to borrow unlimited amounts needed to pay its obligations — while also imposing two years of spending caps and policy changes that Republicans have sought in exchange for allowing the country to avoid. A disastrous default. The 314-to-117 vote came just days before the nation was slated to end its debt ceiling, and days after a marathon of talks between White House negotiators and top House Republicans yielded a breakthrough deal.

With far-right and hard-left lawmakers rebelling over the deal, it fell to a bipartisan coalition led by Democrats that pushed the bill across the finish line. It gripped Washington for weeks. In the final vote, 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats supported the measure, while 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats opposed it.

It was a blow to the Republican speaker, whose hard-fought victory was tempered by the fact that more Democrats than members of his own party ultimately voted for the bill.

The measure nearly collapsed on its way to the House floor when hard-right Republicans sought to block its consideration, and in a scene of suspense, Democrats waited several minutes before casting their votes, allowing the plan to move forward. in front

The agreement would freeze the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit until January 2025. It would cut federal spending by $1.5 trillion over a decade, the Congressional Budget Office says, effectively freezing some funding that was expected to increase next year and curbing spending later. Growth of 1 percent in 2025 is considered a reduction because it will be below inflation. The legislation would impose tougher work requirements for food stamps, provide some funding for IRS enforcement and unspent coronavirus relief money, speed up approval of new energy projects and Mr. Officially Ending Biden’s Student Loan Repayment Freeze

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The compromise was designed to attract votes from both parties. It allowed Republicans, who have refused to raise the debt ceiling without conditions, to claim success in cutting some federal spending — while funding for the military and veterans programs will continue to grow — allowing Democrats. It spared most domestic programs from severe cuts.

Mr. McCarthy on Wednesday framed the bill as “a small step that will get us on the right track” and urged his constituents to support it.

“Because of this bill we’re finally bending the curve on discretionary spending, and we’re doing it while fully funding our national defense and our veterans with Social Security and Medicare,” said Mr. McCarthy said. A speech on the House floor added, “This is a great victory.”

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat and Minority Leader of New York, described the deal as an important step and thanked Democrats for their “efforts to ensure that we push back against radical MAGA Republican efforts to cut the throats of the right. American people.”

“From the beginning, House Democrats will not allow radical MAGA Republicans to defund our debt, cripple the economy or trigger a job-killing recession,” said Mr. Jeffries said. “Under the leadership of President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party kept our promise.”

Mr. Biden hailed the bill’s passage as “an important step toward preventing a preemption in the first place.”

Calling Congress leaders after the vote, Mr. Biden said in a statement. “Neither side got everything they wanted.”

Shortly after the bill passed the House, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, moved to expedite it in the chamber, where it was expected to be quickly considered. Mr. Schumer warned earlier in the day that Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said the government would default without action from Congress.

“I can’t stress enough that we have no margin for error,” he said. “Either we move quickly and send this bipartisan deal to the president’s desk or the federal government will not default for the first time.”

Wednesday’s vote, California Republican Mr. It was a big win for McCarthy, who faced a major challenge in raising the debt ceiling with a chamber narrowly divided by Republicans who have long refused to raise the debt ceiling. Mr. Few expected McCarthy to be able to unite his fractured Congress in such a move, much less one Mr. Had talks with Biden.

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As of Wednesday, no such effort had materialized, although Mr. McCarthy may have more political consequences.

Rep. Dan Bishop, a Republican from North Carolina and a member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, said Mr. McCarthy has publicly stated that he considered the debt and spending pact reasons for removing him from office. Another member of the committee, Rep. Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, told CNN that its members will discuss whether to try to oust him.

“I am not suggesting that the votes are there to remove the Speaker, but the Speaker has promised that we will operate at the 2022 quota level once we have the support to remain Speaker,” Mr. Buck said. “He’s now changed it to 2023 levels and one percent. That’s a big change for a lot of people.”

Mr. Under rules adopted by House Republicans earlier in the year that helped McCarthy become speaker, any lawmaker could immediately vote to impeach him, a move that would require a majority of the chamber.

Hard-right lawmakers were outraged by the compromise, and Mr. What McCarthy dealt with was a betrayal.

“No one here sent us $4 trillion in additional debt and got nothing in return,” said Rep. Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, who promised a “reckoning of what just happened.”

In an expression of their displeasure, 29 conservative Republicans took the unusual step of breaking ranks in a procedural vote to take up the legislation, a formality that normally goes entirely along party lines.

In a dramatic tableau on the House floor, where Republican defections piled up to scuttle the deal, Mr. Jeffries finally raised a green voting card in the air, signaling to fellow Democrats that it was time to go before bailing out Republicans. Centrists and senior Democrats — 52 in all — flocked to the well of the House to vote “yes,” saving the deal from collapse.

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In the final vote on the bill, Mr. McCarthy was able to muster two-thirds of the Republican vote for the plan—a goal he had set—while a large number of Democrats rallied to support it.

But progressive Democrats fiercely opposed the bill, with some saying they could not support new work requirements for safety net programs or reward Republicans’ use of the debt ceiling as a political lever.

“Republicans need to own this vote,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, who took particular aim at changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and measures to speed up gas pipeline production. “It’s their deal. It’s their negotiation. They’re the ones who come in and try to cut SNAP, cut environmental protections, and go through an oil pipeline through a community that doesn’t want it.

“It’s a hostage situation,” said Rep. Greg Gasser of Texas. “We’re going to get out of a hostage situation. I appreciate the president negotiating a ransom for the hostages. But I think it’s appropriate for progressives to say we can’t get into this situation again.”

Adding to progressive displeasure are provisions for returning some unspent money from the previous pandemic relief bill and $10 billion — from $80 billion to $70 billion — in new enforcement funding for the IRS to crack down on tax evaders. They were also armed with measures to force the president to find budget savings to cover the costs of unilateral action, such as quickly approving energy projects and forgiving student loans — a requirement that administration officials could avoid.

The deal also includes measures to avoid a government shutdown later this year.

Mr. Hard-right Republicans like Bishop described the provisions as “crushing,” Mr. That move would have reduced government spending by an average of 18 percent over a decade in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

Carl Hulse, Luke Broadwater, Jim Tankersley And Annie Gurney Contributed report.

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