President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) prepared to talk Sunday to iron out the final elements of their agreement to raise the nation’s borrowing limit and planned to release the details to lawmakers in the House, who may vote on it as soon as Wednesday.
The two leaders had unveiled a tentative framework Saturday night to raise the debt ceiling for two years, past the 2024 election, and curb the next two years of government spending. Many conservatives in the House quickly signaled their opposition, suggesting that McCarthy could have a difficult time winning passage, given his party’s narrow House majority. But lawmakers were still trying to understand the details of the deal.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
Congress will have to approve the legislation before June 5, when the Treasury Department says the government will run out of money to pay its bills. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned of the risk of an unprecedented default on U.S. government debt, which could create a cascade of problems through the global economy.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
McCarthy on Sunday began promoting the measure to wary conservatives within his GOP conference and to a wider audience, saying the tentative agreement was a historic achievement for Republicans.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
He said the agreement included GOP priorities such as caps on certain spending categories, a clawback of funding for new tax-enforcement agents, additional work requirements for some government safety-net programs and expedited rules for approving construction projects. “So, maybe it doesn’t do everything for everyone. But this is a step in the right direction that no one thought we’d be at today,’’ he said on the Fox network.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
Biden and McCarthy, who talked for about 90 minutes on Saturday night, were expected to speak again on Sunday afternoon, after which text of the legislation would be released. In brief comments before the scheduled call, Biden said he was confident the deal would reach his desk.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
Asked if any sticking points remained, the president responded: “None.”
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTSSourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
What’s your outlook on the debt-limit talks? Join the conversation below.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
Details of the agreement were still emerging, with lawmakers drawing different conclusions about what it contained. In a sign of the long road ahead, several of McCarthy’s GOP members indicated that they would oppose the deal. Many had urged him to push harder for elements of a bill that House Republicans had passed last month to raise the debt ceiling for about a year while curbing government spending for a decade and rolling back some of the clean-energy incentives in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, one of Biden’s signature policy accomplishments.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
They said the deal falls short of the House GOP goal, imposing spending limits for the 2024 and 2025 fiscal years for nonmilitary spending. Beyond that, it includes spending targets that aren’t enforceable.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
Rep. Ralph Norman (R., S.C.), in a late-night tweet, called the tentative deal “insanity.”SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
“Not gonna vote to bankrupt our country,” he wrote. “The American people deserve better.”SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
Rep. Ken Buck (R., Colo.) wrote on Twitter that he was “appalled by the debt ceiling surrender.”SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
Rep. Dan Bishop (R., N.C.) wrote Sunday that McCarthy hadn’t clawed back enough of the $80 billion that Congress approved last year to modernize the Internal Revenue Service and hire more staff. “So there will be 85,260 more IRS agents rather than 87,000 to eat you alive,’’ he wrote on Twitter. “Big win.”SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
He also said that McCarthy had undermined GOP efforts to claw back additional IRS money next year by agreeing to raise the debt ceiling enough to meet government needs for two years.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
McCarthy played down the opposition among House GOP lawmakers, saying that “more than 95% of all those in the conference were very excited.”SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
“We capped so that the president can’t just spend money wildly,” McCarthy said, calling the deal “worthy of the American people.”SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
House Republicans hold a narrow, 222-213 majority, and so just a few GOP defections could endanger the bill. One Democrat, Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, said that some in his party could wind up helping Republicans pass the legislation because the measure is a “very, very small bill’’ that falls far short of making the cuts and changes that House Republicans passed last month.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
“It’s not a bill that’s going to make any Democrats happy, but it’s a small enough bill that in the service of actually not destroying the economy this week may get Democratic votes,’’ Himes said on Fox.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
Main elements of the framework agreement include:SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
—A small cut in nonmilitary spending for the 2024 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, and a 1% cap on spending increases for the 2025 fiscal year. Veterans’ health programs would be exempt.SourceMoneyGuru-https://www.mgkx.com/4757.html
Military spending in fiscal 2024 would be roughly at the level of Biden’s fiscal 2024 budget request, according to two people familiar with the matter, which would amount to about a 3% increase.
—A clawback of some unspent Covid-19 money that Congress passed to battle the pandemic.
—A $10 billion reduction in funds that Congress approved last year for the Internal Revenue Service to boost tax enforcement and modernize its technology.
—A provision aimed at pushing Congress to give up its practice of funding the government through a single, omnibus bill, as it has done in recent years, and to return to the tradition of passing 12 appropriations bills that cover the various parts of the federal budget. The measure has potential to win conservative support for the deal and was pushed by an influential Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie (R., Ky.), who believes that Congress should follow regular order when conducting its business.
The provision would call for the U.S. government to operate under a so-called continuing resolution at 99% of the prior year’s spending levels until the spending bills were enacted. Lawmakers were awaiting text to see the date at which the cuts would be triggered.
—Imposition of a one- or two-year time limit to complete environmental reviews for energy projects. Currently, reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 take an average 4.5 years to complete and involve multiple federal agencies.
It is unclear how those timelines would be enforced, however. In recent weeks, lawmakers in both parties have begun holding talks on a broad overhaul of the environmental review process, and McCarthy said he would support further changes to permitting rules.
—A temporary expansion through 2030 of the requirement that some able-bodied people without dependents hold a job or be enrolled in a job training program to receive food stamps, which is a Republican priority.
The deal would largely require able-bodied, low-income adults without dependents between the ages of 49 and 54 to work to receive food aid, phased in over three years. Currently, under rules resuming by July, adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents or disabilities can receive benefits for no more than three months within a three-year period, unless they are working or enrolled in a work program.
A leader of liberal Democrats said she needed to learn more about the deal, particularly about the proposed expansion of work requirements for food aid.
“This is saying to poor people and people in need that we don’t trust them,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, on CNN Sunday. “It is really unfortunate that the president opened the door to this.”
Jayapal said the White House shouldn’t count on her caucus’s support but didn’t immediately pledge to oppose the agreement.
If the bill passes the House, it could get bogged down in Senate delays. It can take a week or more to move legislation through the Senate unless senators unanimously agree to speed up the process.
It’s not clear whether any senator will object to an accelerated process, but last week Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) warned that he would be ready to object to unanimous consent if the bill didn’t meet his expectations.
“I will use every procedural tool at my disposal to impede a debt-ceiling deal that doesn’t contain substantial spending and budgetary reforms,” he wrote on Twitter Thursday. “I fear things are moving in that direction. If they do, that proposal will not face smooth sailing in the Senate.”