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Biden and McCarthy's debt limit deal faces first critical test

The House is likely to vote on the deal Wednesday, after which the deal will proceed to the Senate, where its future is uncertain.
Biden and McCarthy's debt limit deal faces first critical test
Posted at 10:22 AM, May 30, 2023

Six days and counting before the U.S. government will not have enough money to pay its bills.

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are attempting to marshal support for the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which will raise the debt ceiling and cut spending.

Lawmakers are heading back to D.C. after the holiday weekend, and they'll have to hit the ground running to get a deal on the debt ceiling passed.

President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy reached a deal to raise the debt limit over the weekend, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are taking issue with the legislation, so it's hardly a done deal. Nevertheless, President Biden is confident a deal will be reached by June 5.

SEE MORE: Debt ceiling: What's in, what's out of the deal to avert US default

"Look, you know, I never say I'm confident what the Congress is going to do, but I feel very good about it. I've spoken to a number of the members. I spoke to McConnell; I spoke to a whole bunch of people. And it feels good," President Biden told reporters Monday.

On Tuesday the House Rules Committee voted 7-6 to advance the Fiscal Responsibility Act to the House floor on Wednesday.

But McCarthy acknowledges that the compromise with the president "doesn't get everything everybody wanted," as he will have to rely on an equally divided House.

"This is the biggest set of spending cuts and substantial change from the spending of the last two years for this administration," McCarthy said Sunday.

In a Tuesday letter to McCarthy, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill as it stands would cut about $1.5 trillion off the federal deficit over a period of 10 years.

If a deal doesn't happen in the next week or so, the U.S. could default on its debt, potentially triggering economic devastation both in the country and around the globe.

Conservatives speaking out against McCarthy

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus huddled on a conference call Monday evening, where two members — Reps. Ken Buck and Paul Gosar — raised the prospect of ousting McCarthy from the speakership because of concessions he made to President Biden, according to a source on the call.

Other Republicans have been publicly critical of the deal. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) tweeted it was a "turd sandwich," and South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman slammed McCarthy in an interview on Scripps News' "Morning Rush."

"We trusted him. But to surrender almost every point in the bill makes no sense," Norman said. "Why do you think there are 100 Democrats saying they're going to vote for it when we had zero Democrats before? So, we'll see how it works out."

Any member of the House can call for a vote to remove McCarthy because of the concessions he made to conservatives back in January to secure the speakership. McCarthy was elected after 15 rounds of voting.

Once a "motion to vacate" is introduced, a simple majority vote — 218 votes — would be needed to remove McCarthy as speaker. It's unknown how Democrats would vote in such a scenario.

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