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
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
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
"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
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,"
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.