Far-right GOP hardens opposition to debt deal, but White House confident of approval

Washington, May 30 (EFE).- The far-right wing of the Republican Party on Tuesday intensified its offensive against the bill to raise the US debt limit agreed to over the weekend by GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the White House, on which the lower chamber is scheduled to vote on Wednesday.

“I want to be very clear. Not one Republican should vote for this deal. Not one,” conservative lawmaker Chip Roy said at a press conference.

Members of the Freedom Caucus, who make up the most conservative branch of the GOP, took to the media to mobilize their rank and file against the bill that seeks to avoid a default on the US sovereign debt before June 5, the date on which the Treasury Department calculates the government will exhaust its cash reserves and will no longer be able to pay its outstanding debt or already-contracted obligations.

If approved, the bill will raise the debt limit for the next two years, that is to say until after the November 2024 presidential election.

The bill keeps non-defense spending in 2024 at current levels and increases it by just 1 percent in 2025, and although the cuts in other areas will not affect healthcare programs or Social Security, they will have a negative impact on certain social programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Saying he would definitely vote “no” and urging his GOP colleagues to do the same was Andy Biggs, who last week presented a bill to seize allocated funds that have not yet been spent, such as those set aside to deal with the Covid pandemic, to postpone the deadline where the US will run out of funds to pay its debts.

The Republican-controlled lower chamber on April 26 approved a bill to raise the debt limit in exchange for unspecified public spending cuts, and Congressman Ralph Norman said that “This bill is un-American. … No Republican in good conscience should support this. Go back to the drawing table. … Negotiate does not mean completely evaporate, completely dismiss the things that we passed.”

Lawmaker Lauren Boebert said that the House was doing its job but neither Democratic President Joe Biden nor the Senate, where Democrats have control, were doing theirs. If every Republican voted in accord with what they said in their election campaigns, she would vote against the bill, she declared.

The vote in the House depends first on whether its Rules Committee, which is meeting on Tuesday, authorizes it to be put to a vote. The committee includes four Democrats and nine Republicans, including three of the most stauchly conservative: Roy, Norman and Tom Massie.

“This deal fails completely. And that’s why these members and others will be absolutely opposed to the deal and we will do everything in our power to stop it and end it now,” warned Scott Perry, the head of the Freedom Caucus, in speaking to reporters.

Among the Democrats, there are some lawmakers who have expressed their firm opposition to – or reluctance to vote for – the debt deal.

One of those, Danny Davis, said at another press conference on Tuesday that the next 24 hours will determine what happens and that he will vote taking into account the clarifications in the bill that may be achieved within that time.

Although he said he was not sure yet how he’d vote, Davis added he was holding out hope that some changes would be made to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged people, going on to say that he would not move to block a vote.

Meanwhile, the White House expressed confidence that the bill will be passed by both the House and the Senate despite the opposition of the extremist Republicans threatening to hinder its approval, according to the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young.

“I’ve worked in many divided government situations. I think this is where you would expect a bipartisan agreement to land. It’s just the reality. There’s not a unified government,” she said, although she added that one must have faith in the governing majority and that the members of both parties will do the best for the American people.

Young did not provide any specific calculation of how many Democrats will support the bill, but she defended the agreement worked out over the weekend after several weeks of intensive negotiatuons between the Biden administration and McCarthy, in particular.

She said that the “compromise” bill – where neither Democrats nor Republicans get everything they wanted – will protect the US economic recovery, which she called “historic” and hard-won.

First, the House must pass the bill, after which it moves to the Senate and – if it passes there, which appears entirely likely – it will go to Biden’s desk, where he is sure to sign it.

EFE –/bp

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