Does Reply to Biden or McCarthy? The Case for a Better Deal in House Bill 1310: A Case Study of the Biden-McCarlo Deal
The deal Biden and McCarthy struck is a modest package of spending nips and safety-net tucks. Some of the policy is stupid (like cutting funding for I.R.S. enforcement) and some of it is cruel (like adding work requirements for some older adults who need food stamps) but what is most surprising about the package is its size. It’s about a $69 billion cut to spending next year and a $112 billion cut in 2025, with no significant budget caps or automatic cuts kicking in after two years. It does not compromise Biden’s major achievements like the inflation reduction act and student loan cancellation.
When you threaten to Default, it’s similar to threatening to bomb the bank unless the teller gives you $150 and a mug, so you can get a Deal like this. It’s a bizarre mismatch of means and ends.
First, do we actually have a deal? Ultraconservative House Republicans forced Kevin McCarthy to endure 14 humiliating failed votes — and make a slew of concessions — to win the speakership. The message seemed clear: He served at their pleasure. And after agreeing, as part of the deal that won him the gavel, to allow any dissatisfied member to call a vote on his speakership at any time, he could not risk their displeasure. That was where the danger of default lurked. A deal was always possible between Biden and McCarthy. A deal that would appease the three was not a good one.
House lawmakers have passed a piece of compromise legislation brokered between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to avoid an unprecedented debt default with just days to spare.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act, which lifts the debt limit for nearly two years, was approved in a 314-118 vote Wednesday evening.
I was wondering if the bill was everything I wanted. No. But sitting with one House, with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president who didn’t want to meet with us, I think we did pretty dang good for the American public,” McCarthy said during a press conference following the vote, referencing his frequent complaint that Biden wouldn’t meet with him again after a February meeting until House Republicans passed a debt ceiling bill of their own.
Democrats during the floor debate reiterated a claim they’ve made for months: that House Republicans held the economy hostage by not agreeing to pass a clean debt limit bill.
Hakeem Jeffries praised his members for fighting back against the Republicans and their efforts to destroy the republic of the United States.
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The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it will need 60 votes before it would go to Biden’s desk. Chuck Schumer has said that he and his caucus are prepared to stay the weekend to pass the legislation.
“I probably would’ve done the same thing,” McCarthy said of Jeffries’ choice to wait until the last minute to give his members the green light to vote. “Well played.”
The bipartisan bill suspends the debt limit and cuts spending. It establishes spending caps for the federal budget while also making policy changes, including: a claw-back of approximately $27 billion in federal agencies intended to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and an overhaul of permitting reviews for energy projects. It shifts roughly $20 billion of the $80 billion the IRS got through the Inflation Reduction Act.
The bill phases in higher age limits for work requirements on certain federal safety net programs like food stamps, lifting the maximum age from 50 to 54 by 2025. A new exemption would be created that would allow veterans and those experiencing homelessness to be free of the requirements.
A bloc of conservative members expressed their dismay at some of the provisions in the legislation, and argue McCarthy didn’t align the bill close enough to a version the House passed in April.
“I think people would like to compare what they wanted to what we want,” Rep. Don Bacon said before the vote. “But they should compare to where we were at, which was we were going to get a clean debt ceiling with nothing.”
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GOP members left a closed-door conference meeting Tuesday night largely quashing the idea that disaffected members could move to oust McCarthy under a provision he agreed to during his fight for the gavel that allows any single lawmaker to bring up a snap vote to potentially oust the speaker.
Meanwhile, some Democratic members struggled between wanting to pass a bill to avoid a potentially catastrophic default and voting for legislation with provisions their constituents don’t support, like work requirements and speeding up permitting on energy projects.
Annie Kuster said that Biden was trying to get members to support the bill. The two talked on the phone on Monday. A major portion of Democratic votes came from Kuster’s New Democrat Coalition. Kuster, who voted for the bill, said she hopes the compromise deals paves the way for a new chapter in bipartisanship.
“Since the prior president and certainly since Jan. 6th, it’s been very difficult in the Capitol working across the aisle. She said it has been very painful. I think the agreement will bring about a more productive relationship between Republicans and Democrats.
“There was a group of us who felt strongly that while we didn’t like the bill and we didn’t like the way it was negotiated in many ways, we weren’t going to let our country go over a fiscal cliff and that had to be our guiding force,” she said.
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The legislative session was kicked off on Thursday by Chuck Schumer who told senators they would stay until they voted on the measure.
The legislation is in the Senate and will be voted on as soon as possible, Schumer said. The Senate will remain in session until we send a bill to Biden. We will keep working until the job is done.”
On Thursday, the Senate spent much of the day trying to broker a deal among the chamber’s 100 members to speed up the voting schedule. Senate leaders are optimistic that it will pass.
To speed up the voting schedule, leaders and rank-and-file senators were trying to reach an agreement on how many amendments would be considered before a final vote on the debt limit bill. However, Schumer warned none of the amendments could be adopted without raising the potential of default.
The bill’s opposition in the House, like in the Senate, has resulted in strange bedfellows. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah spoke against the plan.
The legislation did not include enough funding for defense and aid to Ukranian people. The plan raises new concerns about threats to climate change, argued the man.
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McCarthy was able to get the plan endorsed by the majority of both parties in the chamber. Democrats helped pass the bill by joining 149 Republicans to approve it.
McConnell, who is the Minority Leader in the House, praised the package which includes spending changes and increased debt ceiling.
“The deal the House passed last night is a promising step toward fiscal sanity,” he said on the Senate floor. “But make no mistake: there is much more work to be done. The fight to reel in wasteful spending is not over.