House Overwhelmingly Approves Biden-McCarthy Debt Ceiling Bill

House Minority Leader McCarthy Holds Weekly Press Conference - Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images
House Minority Leader McCarthy Holds Weekly Press Conference - Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In a 314-117 majority vote on Wednesday night, the House approved a bill to suspend the federal debt ceiling through January of 2025. The vote took place just days before the June 5 deadline for the government to free up funds lest the United States be unable to pay off its debt obligations, and potentially plunge the economy into crisis.

The bill, the result of protracted negotiations between House Republican leadership and the Biden administration, saw President Biden cave to various demands from McCarthy’s camp, including more stringent work requirements for welfare benefits, cuts to the Internal Revenue Service and Covid-19 relief funds, and an end to the suspension of student loan payments.

Despite managing to eke out concessions by holding the U.S. economy hostage, the deal still drew intense criticism from the GOP’s most right-wing factions, who’ve leveled threats against Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s position as House Speaker in the course of their displeasure. The primary complaint among Republicans opposing the bill is that it does not go far enough in its implementation of spending cuts.

On Tuesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told Newsmax that if McCarthy used Democrat support to pass the bill over the objections of the majority of the Republican caucus it  “would trigger an immediate Motion to Vacate” him from his position as Speaker of the House. Republicans voted 149-71 to pass the vote.

The deal will now advance to the Senate, where the Democrat-controlled House is expected to encounter challenges from members of both parties dissatisfied with the contents of the agreement.

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) declared on Wednesday that he would not be voting in favor of the bill via a lengthy statement laying out his opposition to the legislation. “I cannot, in good conscience, vote for a bill that makes it harder for working families to afford the outrageously high price of childcare, housing, and health care while making it easier for the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in America to cheat on their taxes,” Sanders wrote.

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) vowed to use “every procedural tool at my disposal to impede a debt-ceiling deal that doesn’t contain substantial spending and budgetary reforms. I fear things are moving in that direction. If they do, that proposal will not face smooth sailing in the Senate.”

“There’s nothing conservative about a debt deal that grants unlimited borrowing for two years that experts estimate will likely exceed $4 trillion,” Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted Wednesday. “I will insist on an amendment vote to enact REAL spending caps that lead to a balanced budget in 5 years!”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has told lawmakers to prepare for a weekend session to finalize the bill’s passage in Congress and has said that the Monday deadline means Senators “cannot send the bill back to the House.”

“We must avoid default,” he wrote in a letter to colleagues.

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