Debt Ceiling Deal Passes in the House

May 31, 2023

The House of Representatives on Wednesday night voted 314 to 117 to pass the deal to suspend the debt ceiling that was brokered over the weekend by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

The 99-page deal suspends the debt ceiling beyond next year’s presidential election into 2025. It also caps spending in the 2024 and 2025 budgets, claws back unused Covid pandemic funds, speeds up the permitting process for some energy projects, and include extra work requirements for aid programs like food stamps, though overall funding is mostly held flat for domestic programs.

While passage was along bipartisan lines, it appeared that a threatened revolt from the far-right Freedom Caucus did take place in that more of the minority Democrats (165) voted in support of the bill than majority Republicans (149).

Even so, members of the far-left Progressive Caucus, including its chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) were also no votes.

Progressive Caucus member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) had stated earlier in the day that if Speaker McCarthy “needed” her vote, “he can come get it, and he can come negotiate some things away.”

But centrists from both parties, like the members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, backed the bill’s passage. 

McCarthy suggested afterward that he would push for even more spending cuts—like slashing further the number of agents in the IRS and increasing work requirements for social programs—now that Democrats have voted for a bill that included them.

“I think it’s wonderful that they voted for it because they are now on record, so they can’t sit there and yell, ‘This isn’t good.’ So I’ll bring something back,” he said during a news conference.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries appeared more circumspect regarding the outcome. 

“President Biden understood, despite the hostage-taking situation that you unnecessarily thrust the country into, that we had an obligation, a responsibility, to avoid a catastrophic default,” he said. “That’s exactly what President Biden and Democrats have been able to do.”

The President applauded the vote in a statement late Wednesday.

“Tonight, the House took a critical step forward to prevent a first-ever default and protect our country’s hard-earned and historic economic recovery,” Biden said. “I have been clear that the only path forward is a bipartisan compromise that can earn the support of both parties. This agreement meets that test.”

He further urged the Senate to pass the legislation as quickly as possible so he could sign it into law—presumably ahead of the Monday deadline, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that without lifting the debt ceiling, the government will completely run out of money. 

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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