xi's moments
Home | Americas

US House approves debt-ceiling bill to avoid disastrous default

By AI HEPING in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-06-01 23:34

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks in the Rayburn Room following the House vote on Fiscal Responsibility Act at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on May 31, 2023. Mandel NGAN / AFP

Deal: Bill draws criticism from members of both parties

The Republican-controlled United States House of Representatives approved a bipartisan bill on Wednesday with help from Democrats to suspend the US debt ceiling for two years and limit federal spending to avoid a disastrous, and unprecedented default.

The final vote was 314-117, with 165 Democrats and 149 Republicans voting for it. Opposing the bill were 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats.

Republicans control the House 222-213, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy needed 218 votes to push the deal through.

The deal, agreed to by President Joe Biden and McCarthy, now goes to the Democrat-led Senate for its expected approval and then to Biden for his signature. It faces a Monday deadline to become law to avert default.

In a statement, Biden said that he thanked "Speaker McCarthy and his team for negotiating in good faith".

In a social media post, McCarthy said, "The House just passed the biggest spending cut in American history."

The deal suspends the borrowing limit of $31.4 trillion until January 2025. The deal, which would lift the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion in exchange for saving $4.3 trillion by capping spending for two years, essentially gives the Treasury Department the latitude to borrow as much money as it needs to pay the nation's bills during that time.

The centerpiece of the agreement remains a two-year suspension of the debt ceiling, which caps the total amount of money the government is allowed to borrow. Suspending that cap would allow the government to keep borrowing money and pay its bills on time.

Before the House voted on the bill, Democrats helped push through a procedural rule on Wednesday afternoon to allow the bill to be debated. The rule was approved 241-187, with 52 Democrats in support and 29 Republicans opposed.

"House Democrats are going to make sure the country doesn't default. Period. Full stop," House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters earlier on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee narrowly advanced the 99-page legislation for a vote by the House. The GOP-controlled committee voted 7-6 to move the legislation to the House floor, with no Democrats joining Republicans in support.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bipartisan deal would cut federal spending by $1.5 trillion over a decade by effectively freezing some funding that had been projected to increase next year and then limiting spending to 1 percent growth in 2025, which is considered a spending cut because the increase won't keep pace with inflation.

The legislation would also impose stricter work requirements for food stamps, take back some funding for the Internal Revenue Service enforcement and unspent coronavirus relief money, accelerate the permitting of new energy projects and officially end Biden's student loan repayment freeze.

The deal also essentially ensures construction of the long-delayed Mountain Valley Pipeline, a $6.6 billion project to transport natural gas through Appalachia — a region in the central and southern sections of the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern US.

Staunch conservative Republicans and progressive and liberal Democrats were unhappy with the deal. Hard-line Republicans say there aren't enough cuts; Democrats balked over changes to recipients of food stamps.

The House Freedom Caucus — a congressional caucus consisting of conservative Republican members of the House — said the bill falls well short of the spending cuts they demanded, and they vowed to try to halt its passage.

"This deal fails, fails completely," said Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Freedom Caucus. "We will do everything in our power to stop it."

"Nobody could have done a worse job," said Representative Dan Bishop of North Carolina, who said he was fed up with what he said were McCarthy's "lies" about the deal he was going to get.

The bill would impose some new work requirements for people age 50 to 54 receiving food stamps, as well as those in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Progressive and liberal Democrats decried the new work requirements.

Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, a member of the Progressive Caucus, a leftist faction of the Democratic Party, said she was leaning against the bill.

"As somebody who was a food stamp recipient, there is absolutely no way I can see myself greenlighting something that will take food from people's mouths," she said.

The Congressional Budget Office said the spending restrictions in the package would reduce deficits by $1.5 trillion over the decade, a top goal for the Republicans trying to curb the debt load.

But in a surprise, the office said that the Republican drive to tighten requirements for food stamp eligibility for some adults — but loosening them for others, including veterans and homeless people — would increase federal spending on the program by $2.1 billion. Overall, the budget office estimated the deal would make an additional 78,000 people eligible for food stamps.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349