House Republicans gave Speaker Kevin McCarthy his biggest victory of his leadership tenure so far by passing his bill on Wednesday to increase the debt limit while slashing spending. The bill is the GOP’s stance on how to avoid an impending debt crisis.
The bill was passed by a 217-215 margin. As expected, every Democrat voted no, along with four Republicans – Andy Biggs from Arizona, Tim Burchett from Tennessee, Ken Buck from Colorado, and Matt Gaetz in Florida.
The Republicans hailed the vote as an important victory that would put them in a position to negotiate with President Biden over the next few weeks. Biden will not consider anything but a complete increase in the debt limit, while Republicans insist that he must agree to a certain amount of budget trimming before raising the borrowing limit.
Steve Scalise (R-La. ), House Majority leader, stated on Wednesday that if President Biden has a better idea it is time for him to put those ideas forward. This is not something you can run from. You are the commander-in-chief because you requested to be the president of the United States. You are the leader of the world’s free people… This isn’t a job that you can run from. “These are the moments when you have to step up.”
The federal government could face financial difficulties if it cannot raise its debt ceiling by early June.
After spending several hours the day before in McCarthy’s office, several GOP lawmakers who had been dissenting gradually resigned to McCarthy.
Rep. Nancy Mace for example, told reporters on Wednesday morning that she was not happy with the bill and how it was crafted by leaders, but emerged from McCarthy’s office in the afternoon with a completely different message.
It was a good meeting. Mace, R.C., said, “I feel that our voice was heard and we will work together on this going forward.”
The four Republican members of the Iowa House delegation released a statement together hours before the vote to announce their intention to support the bill. The four members of the Iowa House delegation, all Republicans, released a joint statement hours before the vote announcing their intent to support the bill.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) speaks to reporters in the U.S. Capitol after meeting with Speaker of House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), on Wednesday, April 26 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images).
Our delegation, having successfully amended the bill in order to protect the funding for these tax credit, will vote to pass this legislation. This is the first step to avoid defaulting and to cut wasteful expenditure,” read the statement.
The bill was reworked by GOP leaders overnight to appease key Republican factions that appeared to be ready to oppose the bill on Tuesday. The changes soften the repeal of biofuel tax credit and move up the activation date of federal benefit work requirements from 2025 to 2020.
The bill was approved by both Reps. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) and George Santos (R-N.Y.), who announced that they would be solid “yes” voters.
The Limit, Save, Grow Act is designed to increase the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion, or until the end of 2024, depending on which benchmark is reached first. The Act also limits spending increases for the next decade to 1%. In addition to the cost-saving measures mentioned above, it also limits discretionary spending levels at fiscal 2022.
The bill faces an uphill struggle in the Senate. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has criticised House Republicans for trying pair spending cuts and raising the debt ceiling.
Biden also threatened to veto if the bill reached his desk. On Wednesday, he refused to negotiate any spending cuts with an increase in debt limits. Hakeem Jeffreys, D-N.Y. House Democratic Leader, backed this position by accusing Republicans of “exploding” deficits and taking a “dangerous path” in their legislation.