U.S. debt ceiling bill passes House with broad support

STORY: “The bill is passed”

The bill to suspend the U.S. debt ceiling made it through the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

An overwhelming bipartisan majority of 314 out of 435 members supported the measure suspending the $31.4 trillion dollar debt limit for at least a year and a half.

The bill is a compromise deal between Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that fast-tracks some contentious fossil fuel projects, trims Democratic spending initiatives and slaps restrictions on federal anti-poverty programs.

Seventy-one Republicans voted against the bill.

It had to overcome ultra conservatives who have publicly said it fails to meaningfully restrain government spending, a view echoed by Chip Roy of Texas, in Wednesday’s debate.

“Talk about food programs, I don’t hear a whole hell of a lot about what we’re doing to devastate American families with rampant inflation because we keep spending money we don’t have. To my colleagues on this side of the aisle. My beef isn’t that I don’t understand the struggle with the negotiators with that kind of reasoning. My beef is that you cut a deal that shouldn’t have been cut.”

But many more Republicans spoke before the floor vote to support the deal and end a standoff that put the global financial system on edge.

“We all have a responsibility to govern, and default is not an option.”

“We need to avoid a default that would stop checks to our seniors, benefits for our veterans, hurt the US dollar, and Americans’ retirement savings. We also need to change the fiscal trajectory of our nation. And this bill does both.”

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday the legislation would result in $1.5 trillion in savings over a decade, mostly from cuts to domestic programs like housing, education, and other forms of “discretionary” spending.

Democrats, who outnumber Republicans in backing the bill, said ordinary people will suffer the most.

“Every demand the Republicans made in this bill hurts somebody. And hurts the most vulnerable in our country. Going after SNAP for older people, a measly $6-a-day benefit. Shame on you for doing that.”

“We used the power we had to force the president to negotiate.”

Kevin McCarthy, who almost faced a revolt from GOP hardliners to remove him as speaker over the debt fight, appeared elated that the fractious Republican majority marshalled in the last minute.

“This is fabulous. This is one of the best nights I've ever had since I've been here. Now, I found there's a whole new day here. We've woken them up.”

The bill now advances to the Democratic-controlled Senate, which must enact it and get Biden to sign it by next Monday to stave off a destabilizing default.

Voting there could stretch into the weekend, especially if any one of the 100 senators tries to slow down its passage.