Debt Limit Deal Clears House with Democrats’ Support
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 314-117 Wednesday night to pass the McCarthy-Biden debt ceiling bill, which now heads to the Senate. Although the bill passed overwhelmingly, a substantial portion of both parties voted against the measure, and some senators are already on record against the agreement. In exchange for avoiding default, the bill offers Republicans some minor policy victories, but without substantially reducing COVID-era spending.
According to the final vote tally, 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats voted “aye,” while 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats voted “noe.” In the end, nearly a third of House Republicans and nearly a quarter of House Democrats voted against the bill. Conservative Republicans opposed the bill for not including deeper spending cuts, while progressive Democrats opposed the bill for making any concessions.
The bill now heads to the Senate, which could act on the bill in as little as 36 hours or see debate drag on for days. At least a dozen Republican senators and several Democratic senators plan to propose amendments to the legislation, which if passed could send the bill back to the House.
Meanwhile, other senators have already made it known they plan to vote against the bill. “I cannot put my name on this legislation,” Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kans.) said on “Washington Watch” Wednesday. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) called the bill “a fake response to burdensome debt … born out of cowardly fear of confrontation and lack of conviction.”
The compromise bill does little to scale back post-COVID spending, as FRC President Tony Perkins pointed out when he called the deal “absurd” and “not fiscally responsible.”
“Pre-COVID, we were spending about $4.5 trillion per year. And now we’re at $6.5 trillion per year. So, they want to make this the new baseline,” explained Marshall. “All this legislation does is slow down the increase.”
“This country is $31 trillion in debt,” continued Marshall. “This is unsustainable. This is the greatest threat to our country’s national security, to the future of my grandchildren, to schools, to roads and bridges. This is just something that we cannot keep kicking down the road … this is a time for us to stand up.”
Perkins noted that the extra spending is funding a lot of terrible causes, such as biological pathogen research in Chinese labs, abortions in the military, and “woke policies” across the entire government.
Marshall blamed Democrats for the deal’s failure to cut spending. “I don’t blame Speaker McCarthy. I think he negotiated the best he could,” he said. “Remember, America gave him one of three levers when it comes to the appropriation process. Americans gave us President Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer to lead the Senate.” Those men “don’t govern like they’re moderates,” he added. “I hope America remembers this come the next election. Kevin did the best job he could, but I’m not satisfied.”
The Senate will be playing against the clock, as the U.S. government cannot meet its financial obligations past Monday without breaching the debt ceiling. Whether the Senate sends the bill straight to the president (without amendments) or returns it first to the House, the hard-stop deadline is only four days away.
One major unsettled question is whether the unity of the Republican caucus can survive the deal. “Coming out of the speaker’s election in January, we saw unprecedented unity in the Republican conference — up to this point,” said Perkins. On Wednesday, some members refused to rule out the possibility of bringing a “motion to vacate” (essentially, fire McCarthy as speaker) if the debt ceiling deal went through. Marshall responded optimistically, saying the Republican caucus was “a family just like your family. Our families have disputes as well. … We know that for the good of the team, we’ve got to come back together.” Perkins concluded, “I do hope that unity can be preserved.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.