As a former Speaker, I remember the feeling of going to the House floor knowing I was a few votes short of what I needed. In the 15-minute voting process, we had to find the undecided or opposing Republicans and convince them to help the team. So, I have great admiration for what Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP leadership achieved this week passing the rational debt ceiling deal.
Special gratitude must go to Republican Whip Tom Emmer and his floor team for the careful way in which they helped the Speaker and the leadership grow a majority.
Speaker McCarthy’s remarkable achievement in developing and passing a debt ceiling deal with $4.1 trillion in savings — and several conservative policy initiatives — has set the stage for a useful national debate.
House Republicans have passed a responsible increase in the debt ceiling while taking the first steps toward reducing spending and getting back to a balanced budget.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democrat leader, has pronounced the McCarthy debt ceiling bill dead on arrival.
But despite Schumer’s bluster, he has no hope of passing an unreformed debt ceiling through the Senate. Senate Democrats will find themselves unable to pass anything unless they work with Senate Republicans. They will have to move much closer to Speaker McCarthy than to President Joe Biden.
The Biden White House responded to the bill’s passage by saying “House Republicans must take default off the table and address the debt limit without demands and conditions.”
The challenge for President Biden is that most Americans disagree with his demand for an unamended debt ceiling increase. Only one in four Americans (24%) favor lifting the debt ceiling with no conditions. Almost as many (46%) favor raising the debt ceiling only if there are spending cuts. Another 16% would like to never raise the debt ceiling and force the government to quit going into debt.
The high tax, big spending, huge deficit wing of America is a distinct minority. As Democrats go back home, they are going to learn that people want common-sense spending cuts and reforms with the debt ceiling increase. The Biden no negotiation, give me what I want on my terms strategy is going to get weaker and weaker.
Further, the scale of McCarthy’s achievement is beginning to sink in. Remember: Speaker John Boehner and Speaker Paul Ryan couldn’t pass a debt ceiling increase with only Republican votes — and they had much bigger majorities than McCarthy’s.
As the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board wrote, McCarthy got a win.
“House Republicans passed their first big legislative test on Wednesday as they passed their bill to increase the federal debt ceiling with no help from Democrats. Had the vote failed, House Republicans would have lost all leverage over the debt ceiling, and the Senate and White House would have cut their own deal and then jammed the House.
“The fight now will be over the spending and policy reforms in the House bill.”
The editorial board also described one of the most popular reforms in the bill.
“The GOP offer would also impose modest work requirements for Medicaid, food stamps and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. According to the President, making people work or volunteer to receive government assistance is ‘wacko.’ Most Americans must be crazy because they support work requirements for able-bodied adults.”
Ben Domenech in the Transom noted, “Kevin McCarthy Is Pretty Good At This: Holding the coalition together and notching wins.”
The chairman of the Freedom Caucus asserted to Politico, “Look, we’re passing things — big things. Isn’t that a sign of success?”
Mark Halperin, in his brilliant Wide World of News (which I recommend everyone read) wrote:
“What Speaker McCarthy and the allies he has empowered just accomplished with the House passage of a bill that raises the debt ceiling is extraordinary — a huge political and personal win for the Californian, demonstrating the kind of carrot-and-stick, Perils-of-Pauline, just-win-baby approach for which the Dominant Media deified Speaker Pelosi.
“McCarthy overcame the odds and expectations and passed a bill that united his fractious conference, simultaneously raising the debt ceiling and passing spending restraint measures that (despite what the White House and the press suggest) are in at least some of the cases largely popular with swing voters and the public.
“The Dominant Media knows the debt ceiling is a really important story (if, admittedly, a bit process-y). This is a major substantive development, in addition to being a huge political story about a new speaker miraculously rising to the occasion.”
Let’s be clear, the House Republicans have done their job. If Schumer and Biden simply accepted the House bill, there would be no danger of default. Any threat of default now rests on President Biden’s shoulders.
No amount of lying by the White House or covering for him by the propaganda media can disguise that fact.