A handful of hardline Republican lawmakers said Monday they would oppose a deal to raise the US’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, signaling the bipartisan agreement could face a rocky path through Congress before the US runs out of cash next week.
Although expected, the opposition describes the hurdles Democratic President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy will have to overcome to see the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democratic-controlled Senate pass the package.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, said the deal was not enough to change the fiscal trajectory. “After this deal, our country will still be going bankrupt,” he told Fox News.
However, supporters predict it will clear Congress before the United States runs out of money to pay its bills, which the Treasury Department says will happen on June 5.
“This thing is absolutely going to pass. There’s no question about that,” said Republican Representative Dusty Johnson, who said he spoke with dozens of fellow lawmakers.
Biden said he also uses the phones. “It feels good. Let’s see when the voting starts,” he told reporters.
The 99-page bill the loan limit will be suspended until Jan. 1, 2025, which would allow lawmakers to put aside the risky political issue until after the presidential election in November 2024. It would also set some government spending for the next two years.
An important first test will come Tuesday, when the House Rules Committee takes up the bill, a necessary first step before a vote in the full House. Although the panel is generally closely aligned with the House leadership, McCarthy was forced to include some skeptical conservatives as a price for winning the speaker’s gavel.
One of those conservatives, Representative Chip Roy, said Tuesday that he does not support the bill.
“This is not a good deal. Some $4 trillion in debt for – at best – a two-year spending freeze and no serious substantive policy reforms,” Roy wrote on Twitter.
Another panel member, Ralph Norman, came out against the deal.
McCarthy told reporters Monday that he’s not worried about the package’s prospects in committee.
In the Senate, Republican Mike Lee also came out against the bill, which could point to a difficult vote there, where any member has the power to delay action for days. Democrats control the Senate by 51-49.
McCarthy predicted it would get the support of most of his fellow Republicans, who control the House 222-213. House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said he expects support from his side of the aisle — though many on the left of his party may vote “no” as well.
Representative Raul Grijalva, a progressive Democrat, wrote on Twitter that the bill’s changes to environmental regulations were “alarming and deeply disappointing.”
Grijalva points to an element of the bill that would speed up the permitting process for some energy projects. The bill would also eliminate unused funds for COVID-19, and toughen work requirements for food assistance programs for poor Americans.
It would shift some funds from the Internal Revenue Service that collects the tax, though White House officials say that enforcement should not be reduced in the near future.
Initial the reaction was positive from the financial markets, which would cause chaos if the United States could not pay on its securities, which form the foundation of the global financial system.
But some investors are wary that the spending cuts secured by McCarthy could weigh on US growth. Investors are also bracing for potential volatility in the US bond market.
Republicans have argued that steep spending cuts are necessary to stem the growth of the national debt, which at $31.4 trillion is roughly equal to the annual output of the economy.
Interest payments on that debt are expected to eat up a growing share of the budget in coming decades as an aging population drives up health and retirement costs, according to government forecasts.
The deal won’t do anything to curb those fast-growing programs. Most of the savings would come by limiting spending on domestic programs such as housing, border control, scientific research and other forms of “inappropriate spending. Military spending will be allowed to increase over the next two years.