House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is celebrating his debt ceiling negotiations as the “largest spending cut” to ever be voted on in Congress, as a House vote on the bill is set for Wednesday.
McCarthy reached formal agreements with President Joe Biden on Sunday to raise the $31.5 trillion debt ceiling after months of debate between the White House and the top congressional Republican. The final deal, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, would extend the deficit limit until 2025 and cap federal spending in 2024 and 2025 except for defense and veterans funding.
The proposal was finalized just days before the Treasury Department’s June 5 estimate of when the federal government would default on its debts. On Wednesday, the legislation will undergo its first congressional test in front of the GOP-led House after the House Rules Committee voted 7-6 Tuesday night to approve the rules allowing debate on the bill by the full chamber.
Despite Biden and McCarthy urging lawmakers’ support, both leaders have faced pushback on the final 99-page negotiation. One Democratic lawmaker deemed the bill “bad policy” when it was released on Sunday, and a growing number of House Republicans have vowed to vote against the proposal once it reaches the floor.
McCarthy, however, touted the bill Tuesday night after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its prediction of how the Fiscal Responsibility Act would impact the federal budget over the next two years, including decreasing the federal deficit by nearly $1.5 trillion over the next decade as the bill stands today.
“Just confirmed by the non-partisan [CBO],” McCarthy tweeted. “This will be the LARGEST SPENDING CUT that Congress has ever voted for in history. $2.13 Trillion!”
It is unclear how McCarthy got his final tally of $2.13 trillion. The CBO said in its letter to the speaker that discretionary spending would be reduced by $1.3 trillion total, and mandatory spending would decrease by $10 billion.
Newsweek has reached out to McCarthy’s office via email for clarification.
In order to raise the debt ceiling, the White House agreed to keep non-defense spending flat throughout 2024, and the limit would raise by 1 percent in the 2025 budget. Biden also agreed to reallocate $20 billion that was planned to boost the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an agency that Republicans have sought to slash for some time.
Republicans, however, had to back down on a few of their most pressing demands, including a cut in federal spending on food-assistance programs. The White House also negotiated to exempt spending for the homeless, veterans and foster children in the deal, a move that federal officials called a “very positive reform.”
With a growing number of House GOP members speaking out against the bill, however, it’s unclear if McCarthy’s support will be enough to pass the debt ceiling plan onto the Democratic-controlled Senate by June 5. Two House Democrats will also be unable to participate in voting this week, making the speaker’s approval from Republicans all the more important.
On Monday, Biden told reporters outside the White House that there was “no reason” the debt ceiling couldn’t be raised by the impending default deadline.
“I’m confident that we’ll get a vote in both houses and we’ll see,” he added.