Washington, May 31 (EFE).- The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to pass a deal struck by US President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the federal debt ceiling in exchange for some cuts in public spending.
The bill will now go to the Senate, five days before the deadline set by the Treasury Department after which the country could default on its national debt.
A large majority of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers voted in favor of the measure, after several members of the most conservative branch of the GOP expressed their opposition to the initiative considering that it did not do enough to limit spending.
The bill was passed with 314 in favor – 165 Democrats and 149 Republicans – and 117 against, including 46 Democrats and 71 Republicans. Two members from each party abstained from voting.
In a speech before the vote, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy encouraged his party members to back the measure, which he described as “the biggest spending cut in American history.”
“Taxpayers will save an estimated $2.1 trillion. And for the first time in more than a decade, Congress will spend less next year than this year,” he said.
If passed in the Democratic-controlled Senate and signed into law by Biden, the measure will raise the debt ceiling for the next two years, that is, until after the next presidential election.
In return, the White House has agreed to make spending cuts and introduce some requirements for food assistance programs.
The proposal also expedites the permitting process of infrastructure projects, limiting the time that they can be delayed to carry out environmental reviews.
“New roads, bridges, highways, and pipelines will be built sooner and faster because of this bill’s permitting reform,” McCarthy said in his address.
In a statement, Biden thanked McCarthy for negotiating in good faith, and urged the Senate to pass the measure “as soon as possible.”
The approval of the agreement in both houses of Congress is crucial to averting a potential default.
The current debt limit – the maximum amount that the US government is authorized to borrow to meet its debt obligations – stands at $31.4 trillion, which the country hit on Jan. 19.
Lawmakers have until June 5 to pass the measure in both chambers, by which date the Treasury Department estimates the country will exhaust its reserves. EFE