McCarthy Races to Win Over GOP Holdouts on Debt Limit Bill
The Debt

McCarthy Races to Win Over GOP Holdouts on Debt Limit Bill

Reuters/Julia Nikhinson

The House Rules Committee on Tuesday afternoon began consideration of the Republican package to raise the debt limit and slash federal spending, but Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his leadership team are still scrambling to lock down the 218 votes they need to pass the legislation.

McCarthy reportedly had hoped to hold a vote as soon as Wednesday, but his members are still raising concerns about the plan, leaving the timing of any potential vote uncertain.

“Vote on it this week. Yes,” McCarthy said Tuesday, according to CNN. That leaves room for the vote to be delayed if McCarthy and his team can’t corral the holdouts sooner. Republicans can only afford to lose four votes from their own ranks, assuming that no Democrats will support the GOP bill. And the House is scheduled to be out until May 9 after this week, leaving McCarthy and his team little time.

Rank-and-file Republican resistance to the bill spans a number of issues, according to reports.

* Some members simply don’t want to vote for any debt limit increase.

* A Midwestern contingent reportedly opposes a provision repealing ethanol tax breaks enacted last year as part of Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act.

* “Some conservatives have demanded McCarthy go further by repealing more of Democrats’ past spending bills,” Politico reports.

* And some conservatives continue to insist on even stricter work requirements for social programs and are pushing to have them start next year. “An essential element to get my vote for any increase in the debt limit would be enacting work requirements starting in fiscal year 2024 – NOT 2025 as the legislation is currently written,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted Monday. “Otherwise, it’s a no vote from me.”

Party leaders reportedly say such changes would be unworkable — and have been opposed to opening up the bill to changes, likely fearing a new wave of demands if they did so.

“GOP leaders are warning their members that if they sink the bill, it would give President Joe Biden, who has thus far refused to engage in negotiations over raising the nation’s borrowing limit, the upper hand in the high-stakes fight,” CNN’s Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona reported.

The Biden administration on Tuesday threatened to veto the bill if it gets to his desk, which it won’t since it has no chance of clearing the Senate and its Democratic majority.

“The Administration strongly opposes the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, which is a reckless attempt to extract extreme concessions as a condition for the United States simply paying the bills it has already incurred,” the White House said. “The President has been clear that he will not accept such attempts at hostage-taking. House Republicans must take default off the table and address the debt limit without demands and conditions, just as the Congress did three times during the prior Administration.”

The bottom line: Republican leaders continue to express confidence that they’ll get the necessary votes. “Speaker McCarthy’s been at the table. And he has offered to negotiate with the president. Now we’re going to put our terms on a piece of paper, get 218 Republicans, and we’re going to put the ball in their court,” Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), chair of the House Budget Committee, said in an interview on Fox News. But party members are still threatening to sink the bill and embarrass McCarthy. One “senior GOP source” told Fox News that they were more optimistic yesterday than they are today.