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Debt Ceiling Deal Now Goes to Senate   06/01 06:10

   Veering away from a default crisis, the House overwhelmingly approved a debt 
ceiling and budget cuts package, sending the deal that President Joe Biden and 
Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiated to the Senate for swift passage in a matter 
of days, before a fast-approaching deadline.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Veering away from a default crisis, the House 
overwhelmingly approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package, sending the 
deal that President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiated to the 
Senate for swift passage in a matter of days, before a fast-approaching 

   The hard-fought compromise pleased few, but lawmakers assessed it was better 
than the alternative -- a devastating economic upheaval if Congress failed to 
act. Tensions ran high as hard-right Republicans refused the deal, but Biden 
and McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition to push to passage on a robust 
314-117 vote late Wednesday.

   "We did pretty dang good," McCarthy, R-Calif., said afterward.

   Amid deep discontent from Republicans who said the spending restrictions did 
not go far enough, McCarthy said it is only a "first step."

   Biden, watching the tally from Colorado Springs where Thursday he is 
scheduled to deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy, 
phoned McCarthy and the other congressional leaders after the vote. In a 
statement, he called the outcome "good news for the American people and the 
American economy."

   Washington is rushing after a long slog of debate to wrap up work on the 
package to ensure the government can keep paying its bills, and prevent 
financial upheaval at home and abroad. Next Monday is when the Treasury has 
said the U.S. would run short of money and risk a dangerous default.

   Biden had been calling lawmakers directly to shore up backing. McCarthy 
worked to sell skeptical fellow Republicans, even fending off challenges to his 

   A similar bipartisan effort from Democrats and Republicans will be needed in 
the Senate to overcome objections.

   Overall, the 99-page bill would make some inroads in curbing the nation's 
deficits as Republicans demanded, without rolling back Trump-era tax breaks as 
Biden wanted. To pass it, Biden and McCarthy counted on support from the 
political center, a rarity in divided Washington.

   A compromise, the package restricts spending for the next two years, 
suspends the debt ceiling into January 2025 and changes some policies, 
including imposing new work requirements for older Americans receiving food aid 
and greenlighting an Appalachian natural gas line that many Democrats oppose. 
It bolsters funds for defense and veterans, and guts new money for Internal 
Revenue Service agents.

   Raising the nation's debt limit, now $31 trillion, ensures Treasury can 
borrow to pay already incurred U.S. debts.

   Top GOP deal negotiator Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana said Republicans 
were fighting for budget cuts after the past years of extra spending, first 
during the COVID-19 crisis and later with Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, with 
its historic investment to fight climate change paid for with revenues 

   But Republican Rep. Chip Roy, a member of the Freedom Caucus helping to lead 
the opposition, said, "My beef is that you cut a deal that shouldn't have been 

   For weeks negotiators labored late into the night to strike the deal with 
the White House, and for days McCarthy has worked to build support among 
skeptics. At one point, aides wheeled in pizza at the Capitol the night before 
the vote as he walked Republicans through the details, fielded questions and 
encouraged them not to lose sight of the bill's budget savings.

   The speaker has faced a tough crowd. Cheered on by conservative senators and 
outside groups, the hard-right House Freedom Caucus lambasted the compromise as 
falling well short of the needed spending cuts, and they vowed to try to halt 

   A much larger conservative faction, the Republican Study Committee, declined 
to take a position. Even rank-and-file centrist conservatives were unsure, 
leaving McCarthy searching for votes from his slim Republican majority.

   Ominously, the conservatives warned of possibly trying to oust McCarthy over 
the compromise.

   One influential Republican, former President Donald Trump, held his fire: 
"It is what it is," he said of the deal in an interview with Iowa radio host 
Simon Conway.

   House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said it was up to McCarthy to turn 
out Republican votes in the 435-member chamber, where 218 votes are needed for 

   As the tally faltered on an afternoon procedural vote, Jeffries stood 
silently and raised his green voting card, signaling that the Democrats would 
fill in the gap to ensure passage. They did, advancing the bill that hard-right 
Republicans, many from the Freedom Caucus, refused to back.

   "Once again, House Democrats to the rescue to avoid a dangerous default," 
said Jeffries, D-N.Y.

   "What does that say about this extreme MAGA Republican majority?" he said 
about the party aligned with Trump's "Make America Great Again" political 

   Then, on the final vote hours later, Democrats again ensured passage, 
leading the tally as 71 Republicans bucked their majority and voted against it.

   The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the spending restrictions 
in the package would reduce deficits by $1.5 trillion over the decade, a top 
goal for the Republicans trying to curb the debt load.

   In a surprise that complicated Republicans' support, however, the CBO said 
their drive to impose work requirements on older Americans receiving food 
stamps would end up boosting spending by $2.1 billion over the time period. 
That's because the final deal exempts veterans and homeless people, expanding 
the food stamp rolls by 78,000 people monthly, the CBO said.

   Liberal discontent, though, ran strong as nearly four dozen Democrats also 
broke away, decrying the new work requirements for older Americans, those 
50-54, in the food aid program.

   Some Democrats were also incensed that the White House negotiated into the 
deal changes to the landmark National Environmental Policy Act and approval of 
the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline natural gas project. The energy 
development is important to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., but many others oppose 
it as unhelpful in fighting climate change.

   On Wall Street, stock prices were down Wednesday.

   In the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate 
Republican leader Mitch McConnell are working for passage by week's end.

   Schumer warned there is "no room for error."

   Senators, who have remained largely on the sidelines during much of the 
negotiations, are insisting on amendments to reshape the package. But making 
any changes at this stage seemed unlikely with so little time to spare before 
Monday's deadline.

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