New York, May 28 (EFE).- The Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, on Sunday defended the tentative debt deal he reached with the White House to raise the US debt ceiling amid criticism from some lawmakers on the most conservative wing of the GOP.
Saying at a press conference that the bill is “solid,” McCarthy declared that his Republican colleagues will support it, adding that the deal between the Democratic Joe Biden administration and Republicans in the House, which the GOP narrowly controls, will be “transformative” in that it limits the growth of public spending and introduces new requirements for gaining access to social programs.
The tentative agreement announced on Saturday immediately began drawing criticism from the more radical factions of the Republican Party, whose members say it does not meet their demands and provides too many concessions to the Democrats.
GOP congressmen such as Dan Bishop and Chip Roy, along with senators like Rand Paul, among others, lambasted McCarthy on Sunday, saying that the spending “cuts” that the House speaker is claiming are not real and don’t do anything more than maintain the status quo.
“This ‘deal’ is insanity. A $4 (trillion) debt ceiling increase with virtually no cuts is not what we agreed to. Not gonna vote to bankrupt our country. The American people deserve better,” conservative Congressman Ralph Norman of South Carolina said via Twitter.
Given the narrow majority Republicans hold in the lower house, and the fact that Democrats control the Senate, a priori it will be necessary for moderates from both parties to broadly support the pact for it to be able to move forward in either chamber, or both.
At his press conference, McCarthy downplayed the conservative criticism and said that it was necessary for both parties to make concessions to reach a deal and avoid a US debt default, which experts, lawmakers and many pundits say would be “catastrophic” both for Washington’s financial standing in the world as well as for the US and global economies.
“It doesn’t get everything that everybody wanted, but that’s (what) it’s like in a divided government,” said the GOP leader, who reiterated that message in several television interviews on Sunday.
After working during the night on drafting the text of the agreement, forecasts are that the document will be made public sometime on Sunday and McCarthy said that it could be brought to a House vote as early as Wednesday.
On the other hand, House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told CNN that he expects that lawmakers from his party will support the deal, although he refused to say how many votes it would receive until he actually sees the text.
The more progressive wing of the Democratic Party, up until now, has refused to support Republican demands that, according to what is known about them so far, have been included in the pact, including new work requirements for people who want to access social services.
Meanwhile, Biden took to Twitter to call the debt deal a “compromise.”
“It is an important step forward that reduces spending while protecting critical programs for working people and growing the economy for everyone,” he tweeted. “And, the agreement protects my and Congressional Democrats’ key priorities and legislative accomplishments. The agreement represents a compromise, which means not everyone gets what they want. That’s the responsibility of governing.”
If approved, the debt bill will raise the debt limit for the next two years – that is, until after the November 2024 presidential election – and will postpone during that period the risk of a suspension of payments, that is to say a default.
The debt limit is the total amount of money that the US government is authorized to borrow to fulfill its existing legal obligations and to be able to make Social Security and Medicare payments, pay military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds and other pending and previously contracted payments.
Every so often the US comes up against the potential for the government to default because, in contrast to other nations, the government may only borrow up to the limit established by Congress, which has the power to raise the debt ceiling, as needed.
On Jan. 19, 2023, the government reached its legal debt limit of $31.4 trillion, motivating the Treasury Department – since then – to resort to extraordinary measures to pay the US government’s outstanding debts.