The day after reaching an agreement in principle with President Biden to suspend the debt limit, President Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team began an all-out sell-out on Sunday to rally Republicans behind a compromise that was sparking an resistance from the far right.
To get the legislation through a fractious and highly divided Congress, Mr. McCarthy and top Democratic leaders must assemble a coalition of Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate willing to support it. Members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus have already declared war on the plan, which they say fails to enforce significant spending cuts, and have warned they would try to block it.
So, after spending the late nights and early morning hours of the past few days in feverish talks to reach the deal, which would suspend the debt ceiling for two years while cutting and limiting some federal programs during the same period, supporters have addressed the their energies to ensure that it can pass in time to avoid a default now scheduled for June 5th.
« This is the most conservative spending package I’ve ever served in Congress, and this is my 10th term, » Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina and a lead member of McCarthy’s negotiating team, said at a conference. press at the Capitol. Sunday morning in the hills.
House Republicans circulated a one-page memo with 10 talking points about the conservative benefits of the deal, which was still being finalized and written into the legislative text Sunday, hours before it was scheduled to be released. The GOP memo said the plan would cap government spending at 1 percent a year for six years — though the measure is only binding for two years — and noted that it would impose tougher job requirements on Americans receiving benefits. governments, cutting $400 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for global health funding and eliminating funding for hiring new IRS agents in 2023.
Legislation released Sunday night also revealed that the bill includes accelerated approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project favored by Sen. Joe Manchin III, a Democratic casting vote and other West Virginia lawmakers.
The agreement also includes some agreements not clearly included in the 99-page text of the bill.
Administration officials said Sunday they agreed to reuse $10 billion of extra IRS money in each of fiscal years 2024 and 2025, which would represent a loss of a quarter of the $80 billion the agency received for improved services and enforcement as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
But officials said in a call with reporters they didn’t expect any disruption from losing that money in the near term. That’s likely because all of the $80 billion of the 2022 law was earmarked at once, but the agency planned to spend it over eight years. Officials have suggested that the IRS could simply withdraw some of the money it earmarked for subsequent years, then come back to Congress later to ask for more money.
« He doesn’t get everything everyone wanted, » Mr. McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill. “But, in a divided government, that’s where we end up. I think it’s a very positive account. »
Mr. Biden told reporters he was confident the deal would reach his desk and that he spoke with Mr. McCarthy Sunday afternoon « to make sure all T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. »
« The deal prevents the worst possible crisis, a default for the first time in our nation’s history, » Biden said on the day, adding, « It also protects the key priorities, outcomes and values that Congressional Democrats and I we fought long and hard for.
Mr. Biden said it was an open question whether the deal would pass Congress. « I have no idea if he has the votes, » she said of McCarthy. « I guess it does. »
However, the deal was facing sharp criticism from wings of both political parties.
« Terrible politics, absolutely terrible politics, » Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat of Washington, said on CNN’s « State of the Union, » referring to job requirements for food stamps and other public-benefit programs. « I told the president directly when he called me last week Wednesday that this means telling the poor and needy people that we don’t trust them. »
Ms. Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she wanted to read the bill before deciding whether to support it.
Some on the right had already ruled out doing so before seeing the details.
« No one who claims to be a conservative could justify a YES vote, » Rep. Bob Good, a Virginia Republican and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, wrote on Twitter. Rep. Dan Bishop, a Republican from North Carolina, posted his reaction to news of the deal: a vomit emoji.
Russell T. Vought, President Trump’s influential former budget manager who now heads the Center for Renewing America, encouraged right-wing Republicans to use their seats on the House Rules Committee, which Mr. McCarthy gave them as he struggled to get their votes to become speaker – to stall the deal. « The Conservatives should fight it with all their might, » he said.
Even some Senate Republicans, who by that house’s rules have more tools to slow down consideration of the legislation, were up in arms.
“No real cuts to be seen here,” Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, said on Twitter. « The Conservatives have been sold out yet again! »
« With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats? » asked Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, who has vowed to delay the debt limit deal.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, has also been critical, albeit for a very different reason. He called the deal too stingy, calling for more robust military funding, particularly for the Navy.
« I’m not going to make a deal that marginally reduces the number of IRS agents in the future at the expense of scuttling the Navy, » Graham said on « Fox News Sunday. »
But Mr McCarthy argued that Republican critics were a small faction.
« More than 95 percent of all conference attendees were very enthusiastic, » Mr. McCarthy, who briefed Republicans on the deal on Saturday night, told Fox. “Think about this: We’ve finally managed to cut expenses. We are the first Congress to vote to cut spending year after year.”
The deal would essentially freeze federal spending that was on track to grow, excluding military and veterans programs.
Rep. Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican and McCarthy ally, said House Republicans would overwhelmingly support the debt deal. He downplayed the right-wing uprising, arguing that leaders never expected some members of the House Freedom Caucus to vote for it.
« When you say conservatives have concerns, they really are the most colorful conservatives, » Johnson said in « State of the Union, » noting that some Republicans even voted against a more conservative proposal to raise the debt ceiling. « Some of those guys you mentioned didn’t vote for the thing when it was kind of a Republican wish list. »
However, it was clear that Mr. McCarthy would need the votes of Democrats to pass the measure in the House – and those may not prove easy to provide, especially from the left wing in the House.
Rep. Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut, said he was undecided about how to vote but expressed anger at the negotiations, which he likened to Republican hostage-taking.
« None of the things in the bill are Democratic priorities, » Mr. Himes said on Fox. Mr Himes said the legislation would not « make any democrat happy ».
« But it’s a small enough bill that in service of not actually destroying the economy this week it could get Democratic votes, » he said.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Minority Leader, said on CBS’ « Face the Nation » that he expected « there will be Democratic support once we get a chance to actually be fully briefed by the White House. » .
But it was clear that he didn’t like the position the Democrats were in.
“Obviously we have to avoid a market crash. We must avoid crashing the economy. We have to avoid a default,” Jeffries said. “The reason we are in this situation from the beginning is that the extreme Republicans in MAGA decided they would use the possibility of default to hold the economy and ordinary Americans hostage. « .
Peter Baker, Catie Edmondson, Jim Tankersley AND Alan Rapport contributed report.