Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) mustered enough support for the GOP-led House to pass a debt ceiling plan on Wednesday, cranking up pressure on the White House to negotiate on reining in federal government spending as the United States faces the prospect of an unprecedented default on its obligations.
The final tally showed 217 voted in favor and 215 voted against the legislation that would suspend the debt limit until it rises by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024 — whichever comes first — in exchange for a host of spending cuts and commitments aimed at fostering economic growth. In addition to most Democrats, four Republicans opposed the bill: Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Tim Burchett (R-TN), and Ken Buck (R-CO). Three other members did not vote.
U.S. House PASSES Debt Limit & Federal Spending Bill, 217-215.
Goes now to U.S. Senate. pic.twitter.com/yA7hxcJaC3
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 26, 2023
“The House Republicans just passed the only bill in Washington that lifts the debt limit, ends wasteful Washington spending, and puts America back on the right economic path,” McCarthy said in a press conference.
McCarthy dared Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to put an alternative debt ceiling plan to a vote, noting the two chambers could go to conference if it passed, and the speaker challenged President Joe Biden to agree to talks. “Now, the president can no longer put this economy in jeopardy,” McCarthy said.
President Biden—continuing to ignore our nation's debt crisis is not an option. It is well past time for you to come to the table to negotiate. https://t.co/xBoRMdKYqM
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) April 26, 2023
The House bill faces long odds as it heads to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. The White House and its allies have been pushing for a “clean” debt ceiling bill separate from any spending cuts or any policy concessions.
“I’m happy to meet with McCarthy but not on whether or not the debt limit gets extended. That’s not negotiable,” Biden told reporters earlier on Wednesday.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notified Congress in January that the United States had crossed the statutory limit of roughly $31.4 trillion and advised that her agency take “extraordinary measures” so the government could continue to pay its bills, but only in the short term. Time is of the essence, as experts have warned of a default this summer that could cripple the U.S. economy without a deal to raise the borrowing limit for the federal government, which the Treasury Department says Congress has acted upon 78 times since 1960.
House Republicans introduced their plan, the “Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023,” one week ago, with McCarthy saying it would “responsibly raise the debt limit into next year and provide more than $4.5 trillion in savings to American taxpayers.” The 320-page proposal aims to cut spending to 2022 levels and cap spending growth at 1% a year for a decade. It included provisions to rescind unobligated COVID relief funds, repeal “green” energy tax credits, crack down on student debt relief, rescind Internal Revenue Service money, and more.
The Congressional Budget Office assessed the proposal would slash federal deficits by $4.8 trillion over 10 years.
Not everyone on the Republican side immediately supported the plan, threatening its passage as Republicans hold a slim majority in the lower chamber. Although GOP leaders initially signaled that they would not accept changes, over the last 24 hours they have been negotiating with holdouts, hashing out concessions that include cutting sections that would have taken away tax credits for biofuels and agreeing to tighten work requirements for social safety net programs.
“House Republicans’ debt ceiling proposal is an important first step to getting our fiscal house in order and a good faith effort to bring the president to the negotiating table,” the bill’s lead sponsor, Budget Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX), said on the House floor.
Chairman @RepArrington delivered remarks during a House debate of H.R. 2811, the "Limit, Save, Grow Act," which is the @HouseGOP plan to responsibly address the debt ceiling. pic.twitter.com/A5w6d7jIZK
— House Budget GOP (@housebudgetGOP) April 26, 2023
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), the ranking member on the Budget Committee, spoke on the House floor, sharing the view of Democrats that the Republican plan will hurt the economy.
WATCH: Ranking Member @CongBoyle leads the fight on the House floor against Republicans' Default On America Act.
"My friends on the other side of the aisle will claim they are being 'fiscally responsible.' Let's be clear: there never has been and never will be anything fiscally… pic.twitter.com/wHW8A5Io3A
— House Budget Committee Democrats (@HouseBudgetDems) April 26, 2023
“My friends on the other side of the aisle will claim they are being ‘fiscally responsible.’ Let’s be clear: there never has been and never will be anything fiscally responsible about refusing to pay America’s bills. Killing millions of jobs is also not fiscally responsible. Neither is knowingly unleashing a recession,” he said.