by Ben Whedon
The House of Representatives on Wednesday evening passed a bipartisan deal to suspend the debt ceiling and cut spending ahead of a June 5 deadline to avert a national default.
In a 314 to 117 vote, the lower chamber endorsed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, sending it to the Senate for consideration. The upper chamber has until Monday to advance the measure or risk defaulting on the nation’s debts.
71 Republicans broke ranks to oppose the measure, as did 46 Democrats. Despite House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s support for the plan, more House Democrats, 165, ultimately backed the bill than did Republicans, 149.
The plan would suspend the debt limit entirely for two years, giving the Treasury leeway to borrow all the money necessary to pay its bills until after the next presidential election. The debt limit would then return at the level of debt the government owes at that time.
On the other end, the plan will cut the budget for fiscal year 2024 while limiting discretionary spending growth to 1% in the following year. Also included are some work requirements for federal benefits, an end to the freeze on student loan debt repayments, and approvals for key permits to expedite completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
For months, President Joe Biden refused to negotiate with Republicans over raising the debt ceiling, insisting Congress ought to approve a clean increase to the debt ceiling, he ultimately relented and negotiated with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The deal tested the limits of Republican unity in the lower chamber, with conservative members of the Freedom Caucus expressing opposition to the deal on the grounds that it does not adequately address their concerns about the debt.
In the Senate, several Republican Senators, including Ted Cruz, of Texas, Rand Paul, of Kentucky, and Mike Lee, of Utah, have expressed opposition to the deal.
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