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Crucial Days Ahead in Debt Ceiling Deal05/30 06:10

   President Joe Biden says he "feels good" about the debt ceiling and budget 
deal negotiated with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the White House and 
congressional leaders work to ensure its passage this week in time to lift the 
nation's borrowing limit and prevent a disastrous U.S. default.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden says he "feels good" about the debt 
ceiling and budget deal negotiated with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the 
White House and congressional leaders work to ensure its passage this week in 
time to lift the nation's borrowing limit and prevent a disastrous U.S. default.

   Biden spent part of the Memorial Day holiday working the phones, calling 
lawmakers in both parties, as the president does his part to deliver the votes. 
A number of hard right conservatives are criticizing the deal as falling short 
of the deep spending cuts they wanted, while liberals decry policy changes such 
as new work requirements for older Americans in the food aid program.

   A key test will come Tuesday afternoon when the House Rules Committee is 
scheduled to consider the package and vote on sending it to the full House for 
a vote expected Wednesday.

   "I feel very good about it," Biden told reporters Monday as he left 
Washington for his home in Delaware.

   "I've spoken to a number of the members," he said, among them Senate 
Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a past partner in big bipartisan deals who 
largely sat this one out.

   "I spoke to a whole bunch of people, and it feels good," Biden said.

   To those progressive Democrats raising concerns about the package, the 
president had a simple message: "Talk to me."

   As lawmakers size up the 99-page bill, few are expected to be fully 
satisfied with the final product. But Biden, a Democrat, and McCarthy, a 
Republican, are counting on pulling majority support from the political center, 
a rarity in divided Washington, to join in voting to prevent a catastrophic 
federal default.

   Wall Street will open early Tuesday morning delivering its own assessment, 
as the U.S. financial markets that had been closed when the deal was struck 
over the weekend show their reaction to the outcome.

   McCarthy acknowledged the hard-fought compromise with Biden will not be 
"100% of what everybody wants" as he leads a slim House majority powered by 
hard-right conservatives.

   Facing potential blowback from his conservative ranks, the Republican 
speaker will have to rely on upwards of half the House Democrats and half the 
House Republicans to push the debt ceiling package to passage.

   Overall, the package is a tradeoff that would impose some spending 
reductions for the next two years along with a suspension of the debt limit 
into January 2025, pushing the volatile political issue past the next 
presidential election. Raising the debt limit, now $31 trillion, would allow 
Treasury to continue borrowing to pay the nation's already incurred bills.

   Additionally, policy issues are raising the most objections from lawmakers.

   Liberal lawmakers fought hard but were unable to stop new work requirements 
for people 50 to 54 who receive government food assistance and are otherwise 
able-bodied without dependents. The Republicans demanded the bolstered work 
requirements as part of the deal, but some say the changes to the food stamp 
program are not enough.

   The Republicans were also pushing to beef up work requirements for health 
care and other aid; Biden refused to go along on those.

   Questions are also being raised about an unexpected provision that 
essentially gives congressional approval to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 
natural gas project important to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that many Democrats 
and others oppose.

   At the same time, conservative Republicans including those from the House 
Freedom Caucus say the budget slashing does not go nearly far enough to have 
their support.

   "No one claiming to be a conservative could justify a YES vote," tweeted 
Rep. Bob Good, R-Va.

   This "deal" is insanity," said Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C. "Not gonna vote to 
bankrupt our country."

   All told the package would hold spending essentially flat for the coming 
year, while allowing increases for military and veterans accounts. It would cap 
growth at 1% for 2025.

   The House Rules Committee has three members from the influential Freedom 
Caucus who may very well try to block the package from advancing, forcing 
McCarthy to rely on the Democrats on the panel to ensure the bill can be sent 
to the House floor.

   The House aims to vote Wednesday and send the bill to the Senate, where 
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer along with McConnell are working for a quick 
passage by week's end.

   Senators, who have remained largely on the sidelines during much of the 
negotiations between the president and the House speaker, began inserting 
themselves more forcefully into the debate.

   Some senators are insisting on amendments to reshape the package from both 
the left and right flanks. That could require time-consuming debates that delay 
final approval of the deal.

   Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is "extremely disappointed" by the 
provision greenlighting the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, his office 
said in a statement. He plans to file an amendment to remove the provision from 
the package.

   Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina complained that the 
military spending increases are not enough. "I will use all powers available to 
me in the Senate to have amendment votes to undo this catastrophe for defense," 
he tweeted.

   But making any changes to the package at this stage seems highly unlikely 
with so little time to spare. Congress and the White House are racing to meet 
the Monday deadline now less than a week away. That's when Treasury Secretary 
Janet Yellen has said the U.S. would run short of cash and face an 
unprecedented debt default without action.

   A default would almost certainly crush the U.S. economy and spill over 
around the globe, as the world's reliance on the stability of the American 
dollar and the country's leadership fall into question.

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