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Debt-Ceiling Bill Faces Challenge of Getting Enough Bipartisan Support

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With President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreeing to a deal to raise America’s debt ceiling, the tough task ahead will now be to secure enough support from both parties to get the bill passed.

McCarthy and Biden announced their debt-ceiling bill on Saturday. Both have praised the deal, calling it a compromise agreement. While some Republicans criticized the deal for not having the deep spending cuts they want, several Democrats also are not pleased about measures such as new work requirements for older Americans in the country’s food aid program. Despite dissatisfaction on both sides, Biden and McCarthy are expecting to pull majority support from the two parties to get the bill passed and prevent a debt default.

“I feel very good about it,” Biden told reporters on Monday, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve spoken to a number of the members … I spoke to a whole bunch of people, and it feels good.” To the progressive Democrats who have raised concerns about the bill, Biden had a simple message: “Talk to me.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the United States could default on its debt by June 5 if lawmakers fail to raise the debt ceiling on time.

There have been strong disagreements as well as support for the deal from both Democrats and Republicans. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, for example, insisted that the compromise agreement is too right-wing.

During an interview with NBC, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a Congressional Progressive Caucus member, said that “my sense is a large majority of the House Democratic Caucus is in flux as to where they’re going to be on this.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) admitted that the bill would be able to avoid a “catastrophic default” and indicated that he is expecting Democrat support for the deal.

GOP Stance, Voting on the Bill

From the Republican side, the House Freedom Caucus, a powerful force in the House GOP, has indicated that it is against the compromise deal.

“I am hearing the ‘deal’ is for a $4 trillion increase in the debt limit. If that is true, I don’t need to hear anything else. No one claiming to be a conservative could justify a YES vote,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) stated in a tweet on May 28.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) has called the deal an “insanity,” insisting in a May 28 tweet that “a $4 trillion debt-ceiling increase with virtually no cuts is not what we agreed to. Not gonna vote to bankrupt our country. The American people deserve better.”

However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has expressed support for the bill. “The Senate must act swiftly and pass this agreement without unnecessary delay,” McConnell said in a statement on May 28.

The House Rules Committee is expected to vote on the debt-ceiling bill at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The panel is divided 9–4 between Republicans and Democrats. Two Republicans on the panel, Rep. Chip Roy from Texas and Rep. Ralph Norman, have been critical of the bill.

The House will then vote on the bill on Wednesday and then send it to the Senate. Since Democrats are in majority in the Senate, the bill needs strong support from party members to get passed.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has indicated that voting on the matter could extend into the weekend. If the bill does get passed by the end of the week, it would be sent to President Biden, who will then sign it into law.

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