A day after striking a deal in principle with President Biden to suspend the debt limit, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team launched a sweeping sales campaign Sunday to rally Republicans behind a compromise that has drawn stiff resistance from the hard right.
To get the legislation through a divided and closely 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. Ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus members have already declared war on the plan, which they say has failed to force deep spending cuts, and have warned they will seek to block the plan.
So, after spending late nights and early mornings in recent days frantically negotiating the deal, which would suspend the debt ceiling for two years while cutting and covering some federal programs over the same period, backers turned their energies into ensuring it passed. Just in time to avoid a default now expected on June 5th.
“This is the most conservative spending package of my service in Congress, and this is my tenth term,” Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-North Carolina and a key member of Mr. McCarthy’s negotiating team, said at a Capitol news conference. Hill Sunday morning.
House Republicans circulated a one-page memo with 10 talking points on the conservative benefits of the deal, which was still being finalized and written into legislative text on Sunday, hours before it was expected to be released. The GOP memo asserted that the plan would cap government spending at 1 percent per year for six years — though the measure is only binding for two years — and noted that it would impose stricter work requirements on Americans receiving government benefits, and would cut $400 million from centers . Disease Control and Prevention Global Health Funding and Revocation Funding to Hire New IRS Agents in 2023.
The legislative text released Sunday night also revealed that the bill includes urgent approvals for the Mountain Valley pipeline, a project favored by Sen. Joe Manchin III, a key Democratic swing vote, and other representatives from West Virginia.
The deal also includes some agreements that are not clearly included in the 99 pages of the invoice text.
Administration officials said Sunday they agreed to reallocate $10 billion in additional IRS money in both fiscal years 2024 and 2025, representing a loss of a quarter of the $80 billion the agency received to improve services and enforcement as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
But officials, contacted by reporters, said they did not expect any turbulence at all from losing the money in the short term. That’s likely because the $80 billion from the 2022 law was allotted at once, but the agency planned to spend it over eight years. Officials suggested that the IRS might simply withdraw some of the money earmarked for subsequent years, and then go back to Congress later to ask for more money.
“She’s not getting everything everyone wants,” McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill. But, in a divided government, this is where we end up. I think it’s a very positive bill.”
Mr. Biden told reporters he was confident the deal would reach his desk and that he spoke with Mr. McCarthy on Sunday afternoon to “make sure all the T’s and dotted I’s crossed.”
“The agreement prevents the worst possible crisis, a default for the first time in our nation’s history,” Mr. Biden said later in the day, adding: “It also protects the priorities, key achievements and values that Congressional Democrats and I have fought for so long and hard for.”
Biden said it was an open question whether the deal would get through Congress. “I have no idea if he has the votes,” he said of Mr. McCarthy. “I expect he will.”
However, the deal was facing heavy criticism from wings of both political parties.
“Terrible politics, very terrible politics,” Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to labor requirements for food stamps and other public benefit programs. “I told the president directly when he called me last week on Wednesday that this says to the poor and needy 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 right-wingers had ruled out doing so before seeing the details.
Rep. Bob Goode, R-Va. and member of the House Freedom Caucus, wrote on Twitter: “No one who claims to be conservative can justify a yes vote.” Rep. Dan Bishop, R-North Carolina, posted his reaction to news of the deal: a vomit emoji.
Vogt, the influential former budget director under President Trump who now runs the Center for Renewing America, encouraged right-wing Republicans to use their seats on the House Rules Committee — given to them by Mr. McCarthy as he toiled to win votes to become a megaphone — to block the deal. “Conservatives must fight it with all their might,” he said.
Some Senate Republicans, who under that chamber’s rules have more tools to slow consideration of legislation, were also agitated.
“No real cutbacks to see here,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on Twitter. “Conservatives are sold out again!”
“With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?” asked Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who has pledged to delay the debt-reduction deal.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, was also critical — though for an entirely different reason. He called the deal too stingy, and demanded more aggressive military funding, especially for the Navy.
“I’m not going to make a deal that slightly reduces the number of IRS clients in the future at the expense of dumping the Navy,” Mr. Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.”
But Mr. McCarthy argued that Republican pundits are a small faction.
“More than 95 percent of all convention attendees were very excited,” McCarthy, who briefed Republicans on the deal Saturday night, told Fox. “Think about this: We finally got to cut spending. 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, except for programs for military personnel and veterans.
Representative Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota and an ally of Mr. McCarthy, said House Republicans would overwhelmingly support the debt deal. He downplayed the right-wing insurrection, claiming that the leaders never expected certain members of the House Freedom Caucus to vote for it.
“When you say the Conservatives have concerns, they are actually the most energetic Conservatives,” Johnson said on “State of the Union,” noting that some Republicans voted against even a more conservative proposal to raise the debt ceiling. “Some of these guys you mentioned didn’t vote for this thing when it was kind of a Republican wish list.”
However, it was clear that Mr McCarthy would need votes from Democrats to pass the measure through the House – and that may not be easy to achieve, especially from the left wing of the House.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said he has not made a decision on how to vote, but he has expressed anger at the negotiations, which he likened to hostage-taking by Republicans.
“None of the things in the bill are Democratic priorities,” Himes told Fox. Mr. Himes said the legislation “would not please any Democrat.”
“But it is a bill small enough that in the service of not destroying the economy this week it may get the votes of the Democrats,” he said.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Minority Leader, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he expects there will be “Democratic support once we have the ability to receive a full White House briefing.”
But it was clear that he didn’t like the position the Democrats were in.
“We have to avoid a market crash, of course. We have to avoid putting the economy at risk. We have to avoid default,” Jeffries said. the economy and ordinary Americans hostage.”
Peter BakerAnd Katie EdmondsonAnd Jim Tankersley And Alan Rapport Contribute to the preparation of reports.