House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and other top House Republicans raced Tuesday to lock down votes for a legislative package that would raise the debt ceiling while cutting spending that they believe will strengthen their negotiating position with Democrats as a standoff looms later this year.
McCarthy hosted GOP members in the speaker’s office all day Tuesday as tense talks continued between leadership and some members from different factions who remain noncommittal on or opposed to the bill, called the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023.
“This week we will pass a bill on this floor that will lift the debt ceiling, something the Senate has not done, something the president has not negotiated, and send it over to the Senate,” McCarthy told reporters at the end of the day, even while a small number of Republicans threaten to derail its passage.
The speaker emphasized that the bill is not the final package that President Joe Biden will ultimately sign but rather a negotiating tool.
“This bill is to get us to the negotiating table. It’s not the final provisions, and there’s a number of members that will vote for it going forward and say there are concerns they have … but they want to make sure the negotiation goes forward,” McCarthy said.
Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) continue to refuse to work with McCarthy and are instead waiting — and hoping — that House Republicans will fail to find consensus on a solution ahead of the U.S. reaching its debt ceiling sometime as early as this summer.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that if the U.S. cannot raise its borrowing limit in time, “economic catastrophe” will ensue.
Biden and Schumer seek to force the House GOP at that point into supporting a “clean” debt ceiling hike — that is, lifting the ceiling without the deep spending reductions Republicans are aiming for.
The White House has also already outright said Biden will veto Republicans’ proposed debt limit package, but Republicans anticipate that uniting around the package and successfully passing it will force Biden and Schumer to make concessions.
Finding consensus on spending cuts among the House GOP conference has, however, been a delicate and challenging task, particularly for House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN).
“There’s 222 different personalities that represent many different parts of the country that have many different likes and dislikes and needs,” Emmer told Breitbart News in an interview Monday.
McCarthy, Emmer, and others in leadership are grappling with a group of Midwesterners worried about repealing biofuel tax credits in the bill, while Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and embattled Rep. George Santos (R-NY) have said they will vote against the legislation because of issues with the welfare work requirement component.
Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), who leads a faction of the most right-wing members of the conference, emerged from McCarthy’s office Tuesday harboring reservations about the bill and refraining from revealing how he planned to vote.
At one point, all four Iowa Republicans, who hail from a top corn-producing state, streamed into McCarthy’s office tight-lipped on where they stood on the biofuels issue.
Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Nancy Mace (R-SC) are also both warning they will vote against the bill, per CNN.
On top of what appears to be, in total, more than a half-dozen no votes or possible no votes on the current legislation, Republicans are expecting at least one absent member on Wednesday, the earliest day that the bill could come to the floor for a vote.
With a razor-thin majority, a mere couple of no votes and absences jeopardize Republicans’ chances of successfully presenting the Democrat-controlled Senate with a debt limit proposal.
Still, Republican leadership is continuing to convey confidence.
Emmer exited McCarthy’s office Tuesday reiterating what he told Breitbart News one day prior, that the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 would pass in its current form.
McCarthy, at the end of his remarks Tuesday evening, quipped back at the media for repeating questions to him about changing the bill as he faces down defectors in his party.
“We’re going to pass the bill on the floor. Do you guys not listen to my answers?” he asked with an air of humor before turning to head back into his office.