Kevin McCarthy, the Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said that lawmakers will vote on a bill to raise the $31.4 trillion federal debt ceiling and cut spending on Wednesday, even though there is still disagreement among them about the plan.
Overnight, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives passed changes to the bill that were meant to ease the worries of Republicans in the Midwest about tax credits for biofuels and give in to the demands of hardliners to make work requirements tougher for some low-income Americans.
McCarthy can lose only four votes from his narrow majority of 222-213 if he wants to pass the bill. He has said that this is a must if he wants to force Democratic President Joe Biden to discuss spending cuts before the debt ceiling can be raised. If nothing is done, a disastrous default could happen.
When reporters asked McCarthy if he had the 218 votes needed to pass the bill, he said, “I don’t want to take away all your excitement.”
Representative Kevin Hern, who is in charge of the 175-person Republican Study Committee, said that most Republicans would back the changes.
Hern said, “They’re pretty sure that they’ve answered all the questions and have reached a point where we can vote.”
The overnight changes got rid of a part of the 2022 “Inflation Reduction Act” that would have stopped a tax credit for biofuels. This was part of Biden’s plan to fight climate change. Several Republicans in the House, especially from the Midwest, had fought against this rule.
In order to please the party’s far-right members, Republicans pushed through new, stricter work requirements for poor people who want to get health care through Medicaid.
“The new plan is even harsher and more cruel. It wasn’t enough to kick poor people off of health care. “They now want to do it faster,” said Representative Jim McGovern, the top Democrat on the committee.
House Republicans want to increase the government’s ability to borrow money by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, whichever comes first. The bill would cut spending to the level it was at in 2022 and then cap growth at 1% a year. It would also get rid of some tax breaks for green energy and make it harder to get help from some anti-poverty programmes if you didn’t work. Even if it passes the House, it is not likely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate as it is now.
Several House Republicans kept saying they didn’t like the bill for different reasons. Some said it didn’t cut spending enough, while others were worried it would hurt their areas a lot.
Representative Nancy Mace said she was “still thinking” about whether or not she could back the bill now, and Matt Gaetz, a conservative, said he was still against it.
There is a lot at stake: The U.S. government’s credit rating went down in 2011 because of the long standoff over the debt cap. This made it more expensive for the government to borrow money, and Wall Street is already sending out warning signs.
The White House has asked Congress to raise the debt limit without any conditions, just like it did three times when Biden’s predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, was in office.
Lawmakers don’t know exactly how much time is left for them to act. The “x-date” when the Treasury Department would no longer be able to pay all its bills could come as soon as June or take place later in the summer.
Democrats also say that the proposed trade-off of 10 years of spending cuts for an increase in the debt ceiling is not a fair deal. They say that raising the debt ceiling would lead to another round of talks that could be painful early next year, just as the presidential campaign heats up.
Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat, said, “Ten years of cuts for less than one year of keeping the government from going bankrupt.” “We’ll be back here in less than a year.”