And it was a hard-fought victory. The conference had been in talks on the bill for months, but McCarthy was still negotiating with members over the fence shortly before the vote. Still, GOP lawmakers cheered the bill’s passage, hoping it will give them some leverage to force leading Democrats to back down from claims that they would not negotiate beyond the limit at all. debt.
“I think everyone’s focus is on solving this and finally getting the president … to come to the table,” Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said, adding that Republicans want to give McCarthy “the opportunity to go negotiate with the President.”
Representatives Andy Biggs (Arizona), Ken Buck (Colo.), Tim Burchett (Tenn.) and Matt Gaetz (Florida) were the Republicans who opposed the bill, along with all Democrats.
It is still far from clear that the House GOP plan will change the calculus either at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue or on the other side of the Capitol with the Senate Democrats. Both have stressed for months, along with their less influential colleagues in the House, that they want a “clean” increase in the debt ceiling, without spending cuts.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted McCarthy ahead of Wednesday’s vote, accusing him of ‘again capitulating to the hard right’ as he worked to lock down votes to pass the debt plan.
“It’s a bill that might as well be called the Default On America Act. Because that’s exactly what it is – DOA, dead on arrival,” Schumer said.
The Republican House bill combines general spending cuts with other Conservative proposals, including tougher rules for social safety net programs and energy production incentives. But after swearing for days that they would not open the bill to negotiations, fearing it would create a tidal wave of demands, Republican leaders struck a deal in the middle of the night to try to winning two critical groups: Midwesterners and conservatives.
For members in the Midwest, the GOP leadership agreed to scrap changes to incentive structures for renewable diesel, second-generation biofuels, carbon dioxide sequestration, and biodiesel. For curators, they have tightened work requirements and accelerated the timeline for implementation. Rep. Nancy Mace (RS.C.), who decided to back the bill on Wednesday, also said McCarthy pledged to work to balance the budget during a conversation with her.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) acknowledged that his conservative members were unconvinced by all of the bill’s provisions, but argued that passage of the proposal was crucial to keep Republicans at the table.
“It’s not perfect. It is a step in the right direction. We have to be in the arena and stay on offense,” Perry said.
The next phase won’t be any easier for Republicans, however, who barely scratched at that point on a 217-215 vote. McCarthy must ultimately strike a deal with Biden and the Senate Democrats that would somehow win over the centrist and conservative factions in his conference as well.
“It’s going to have to be a conservative package if he’s going to win Republican conference support, but I don’t think it’s serving anyone’s interest talking about red lines right now,” he said. Rep. Dusty Johnson (RS.D.), the business-oriented Main Street Caucus chairman.
Driving the debt ceiling talks is still relatively new to House Republicans, who have largely left it to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to negotiate debt ceiling deals in the first two years of the Biden administration. These deals sparked a fierce backlash not only from House Republicans, but also from conservatives in the Senate.
And Republican senators are warning that they are not preparing to resume the breach, at least not yet. Moreover, it’s far from clear that a GOP-brokered deal in the Senate would even find favor at the more vocal GOP conference in the House.
The House bill “forces the administration to come to the table,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.) said Wednesday. “The pressure should really be on the White House.”
Sarah Ferris and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.