House GOP Passes Bill; McCarthy tries to drag Biden into negotiations

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) walks following a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill on April 26, 2023 in Washington.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

WASHINGTON — A Republican bill to raise the debt ceiling and cut government funding passed the House on Wednesday, after 11 hours of changes that won over a group of holdouts within the GOP caucus.

The final tally was 217-215. Four Republicans joined Democrats in voting against their party’s signature piece of legislation.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., won the vote, ending a 24-hour sprint that saw party leaders work past 2 a.m. Wednesday. Correction Bill.

Last-minute amendments included recovery for ethanol and biofuel tax credits, which were eliminated under the original bill. The prospect of losing the tax breaks angered Republicans from Iowa and nearby states, who threatened to sink the bill unless McCarthy agreed to protect the tax breaks, which he did.

Another group of conservatives called for an amendment to McCarthy’s bill to quickly implement new work requirements for adults receiving food stamps or Medicaid benefits. McCarthy agreed to the request.

McCarthy was unable to lose the support of any caucus as the bill passed by just four Republican votes.

However, the amendments rankled some ranking members of the GOP caucus because they came after McCarthy barred members from introducing their own amendments and insisted the bill in its original form was final and not up for debate.

The Limit, Save and Grow Act is unlikely to become law, which may help explain why Republicans were willing to overlook McCarthy’s last-minute, backroom deals.

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Instead of looking at the rules in 320 page bill House Republicans see the plan as a symbolic opening step in McCarthy’s talks with President Joe Biden later this year over the debt ceiling and federal funding, according to Future Legislation.

“There’s a lot of hard work to be done on how best to start this negotiation,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., told reporters Wednesday.

However, the White House sees things very differently.

“This bill is an irresponsible attempt to make extreme concessions as a condition for paying the tariffs America has already paid,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a formal announcement in the House on Tuesday that Biden would veto the GOP debt. Limit if Bill ever reaches his desk.

“The president has been clear that he will not accept hostage-taking efforts. Republicans must take default off the table and resolve the debt ceiling without demands or conditions,” the White House said.

While the White House and congressional Republicans are miles apart, the clock is ticking to pay off America’s massive debt and keep the federal government running.

Without congressional approval of a bill to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, the United States faces the unthinkable.

Several new reports this week suggest a larger-than-expected drop in federal tax receipts this year could speed up the so-called X-date. That’s the date the Treasury Department is scheduled to run out of emergency measures to prevent default on the federal debt.

Note from Goldman Sachs predicted “The credit limit deadline will come down in late July,” federal tax receipts are down only 30% from last year. If federal revenues fall by 35%, the ex-date could move to “early June.”

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