Just days before the deadline for the United States to avoid default on its debts on Monday, the House passed a plan to increase the debt ceiling and limit government spending on a broad bipartisan vote late on Wednesday.
By a vote of 314 to 117, the Fiscal Responsibility Act was approved by both Democrats and Republicans, and weeks of contentious negotiations between the White House and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy ended dramatically.
Leaders on both sides hope to pass it in the Democratic-controlled Senate within the next 48 hours, so the drama now shifts there. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, stood up late on Wednesday night in a practically empty Senate chamber to formally schedule the bill for Thursday.
“There’s been a very good vote in the House. I hope we can move the bill quickly here in the Senate and bring it to the president’s desk as soon as possible,” Schumer said.
The White House’s response was measured. “Neither side got everything it wanted. That’s the responsibility of governing,” President Joe Biden stated following the vote. McCarthy received praise from Biden for “negotiating in good faith,” he urged the Senate to ratify the legislation swiftly.
McCarthy regarded the vote as a triumph for himself. I had considered this day even before being elected speaker since I knew the debt ceiling would soon be raised. At a news conference on Wednesday night, he stated, “I wanted to make history.”
“It wasn’t an easy fight. I had people on both sides upset” McCarthy said. “But I think we did pretty good for the American people.”
But despite the joy, other Republicans were furious. GOP Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia, a vocal opponent of the bill, said, “The disastrous debt ceiling deal just passed with more Democrat votes than Republican votes.”
In a late- Wednesday tweet, he described the legislation as “shameful,” adding that it “tells you everything you need to know.”
The disastrous debt ceiling deal just passed with MORE DEMOCRAT votes than Republican votes.
Tells you everything you need to know.
This bill is chock-full of Democrat priorities—NOT Republican values and wins for the American people.
— Rep. Andrew Clyde (@Rep_Clyde) June 1, 2023
Many were shocked that 165 Democrats voted for McCarthy’s plan while just 149 Republicans did. Just 29 Republicans had voted against a motion to start the bill’s debate earlier in the day, the last procedural step that frequently acts as a litmus test for the final tally.
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Not in this instance though. 71 Republicans disobeyed McCarthy on Wednesday night and voted against the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, if lawmakers don’t increase the borrowing limit by next week, federal funds may run out in the upcoming days.
Failure to do so would disrupt international financial markets, lead to American job losses, and imperil essential government benefits for millions of Americans.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act is the outcome of an agreement between McCarthy and Biden. It essentially gave conservatives many ideological policy wins in exchange for their support to raise the debt ceiling into next year’s election and 2025.
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