Debt ceiling: McCarthy wins 1st round, Biden eyes long game

Apr 27, 2023, 6:00 PM

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters just after the Republican majorit...

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters just after the Republican majority in the House narrowly passed a sweeping debt ceiling package as they try to push President Joe Biden into negotiations on federal spending, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Kevin McCarthy surprised Washington when he showed he could unite the House’s raucous Republican majority to pass a sweeping package to raise the nation’s debt limit by $1.5 trillion in exchange for steep spending reductions, an opening bid awaiting President Joe Biden’s response.

The next moves are more difficult, and politically uncertain.

This week’s stunning turnaround for the battle-hardened Republican speaker is only act one in what is expected to be a long summer battle with Democrats to find agreement to lift the nation’s borrowing capacity and avert a potentially catastrophic debt default.

Biden on Thursday had no direct response to McCarthy’s maneuver. The White House has made clear it is not willing to barter with Republicans over whether or not the nation will pay its bills. Democrats opposed the harsh spending cuts Republicans proposed, and the president vowed to veto McCarthy’s bill.

“We’re not negotiating on this,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The president has indicated he’s willing to talk budget issues, she said. But he’s not engaging on whether or not the nation will raise the debt limit.

The U.S. is not a “deadbeat nation” and always pays its debt, she said. “House Republicans are holding our economy hostage and threatening default.”

What has become apparent, though, is that Biden’s refusal to negotiate may not be a tenable position for the White House as the deadline nears for action. While the White House is taking the long view, preparing to slam the Republicans for what Biden calls “wacko” ideas that will harm Americans, at some point the president, and the Democratic-led Senate, will need to respond to the House.

Economic analysts warn even the political threat of a federal default on the nation’s debt, now at $31 trillion, would send shockwaves through an already jittery economy. With economic growth falling to a sluggish 1% annual rate last quarter, according to new data this week, signs point to the potential for a recession ahead.

The Treasury Department continues to pay the nation’s bills, but the money will soon fall short, even though tax returns in April helped replenish the coffers. An analysis from Goldman Sachs puts the deadline for raising the debt limit in late July.

“We’ve lifted the debt limit. We’ve sent it to the Senate. We’ve done our job,” McCarthy said after Wednesday’s vote.

McCarthy said the president “should sit down and negotiate.”

Underestimated from the start, McCarthy of California has shown he can muscle legislation to passage using the currency Washington values most — votes — to lay down a policy marker in the debate.

The Republican-passed bill is stacked with party priorities, and imposes broad restrictions on federal government spending that are bound to be unpopular as they chip away at the programs and services Americans rely on in their daily lives. And the bill’s bolstered work requirements on recipients of food stamps, health care and other government aid are expected to fall harshly on Americans who need aid the most. The demands are likely to be met with protests.

In the Senate, where Democrats have the majority, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calls the House package a “ransom note forced on us by the hard right.”

Schumer may never even bring the House bill up for a vote in the Senate. Instead, he predicted Americans “will reject steep cuts to education, law enforcement, veterans care and border security” contained in the Republican bill.

Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress want to simply raise the debt limit with no strings attached, a throwback to an earlier era.

But those days may be long passed. Democrats negotiated their own priorities to raise the debt limit during the Trump presidency. And Republicans showed they were willing to take the country to the brink of a first-ever federal default the last time they confronted a Democratic president, during the tea party era a decade ago.

McCarthy found success in uniting the Freedom Caucus and other factions around this proposal, but next steps will be more complicated for the Republican speaker.

The package the Republicans approved, over unified Democratic opposition in the House, included many of the Freedom Caucus priorities. Rank-and-file Republicans know it has little chance of becoming law and was merely an opening salvo to push Biden to the negotiating table. Any compromise may be harder for McCarthy to sell.

“We’re sending over what we believe is a responsible solution,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. “Now, it’s your move, Mr. President.”

Like past Republican leaders John Boehner and Paul Ryan, McCarthy risks being chased to early retirement or facing the threat of a vote for his ouster if he doesn’t push hard-right priorities.

For now, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is staying out of McCarthy’s way, letting the new Republican speaker try his hand at uniting his conference and confronting the Democratic president where others have failed.

“Getting something like that across the finish line in a narrowly divided House is a remarkable achievement,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the No. 2 Republican. He called it “a tour de force.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the House’s ability to pass their bill “changes the dynamics considerably.”

People should not expect McConnell to step in and help broker a debt ceiling agreement. “It’s not going to happen,” Cornyn said.

“The whole purpose of this is to compel the president to negotiate and to demonstrate to Washington D..C that Kevin McCarthy has the votes to raise the debt ceiling.” said one McCarthy ally, Rep. French Hill, R-Ark. “The game moves to the White House to see what they are willing to do.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

United States News

Associated Press

Pat Robertson dies at 93; founded Christian Broadcasting Network, Christian Coalition

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Pat Robertson, a religious broadcaster who turned a tiny Virginia station into the global Christian Broadcasting Network, tried a run for president and helped make religion central to Republican Party politics in America through his Christian Coalition, has died. He was 93. Robertson’s death Thursday was announced by his broadcasting […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Homes burn as a wildfire rips through a development near Rock Creek Village, Dec. 30, 2021, ...

Associated Press

Authorities to reveal results of investigation into how Colorado’s worst wildfire started

DENVER (AP) — Authorities say they have wrapped up their investigation into what started the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history and will announce their findings on Thursday. The blaze destroyed nearly 1,100 homes as heavy winds pushed it across the heavily populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder on Dec. 30, 2021. Two people were […]

1 day ago

Kim Adams of the SOAR Initiative, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent drug overdoses in Ohio, packs f...

Associated Press

‘Keep them alive’: More states legalize fentanyl test strips to combat surging opioid deaths

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — At Cleveland’s Urban Kutz Barbershop, customers can flip through magazines as they wait, or help themselves to drug screening tests left out in a box on a table with a somber message: “Your drugs could contain fentanyl. Please take free test strips.” Owner Waverly Willis has given out strips for years […]

1 day ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during an event to commemorate Pride Month, in the East Room of t...

Associated Press

Biden invites thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals, singer Betty Who, to Pride Month celebration

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has invited thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals to celebrate Pride Month in a high-profile show of support at a time when the community feels under attack like never before and the White House has little recourse to beat back a flood state-level legislation against them. Biden was announcing new initiatives […]

1 day ago

FILE - Former President Donald Trump greets supporters before speaking at the Westside Conservative...

Associated Press

The Republican presidential field is largely set. Here are takeaways on where the contest stands.

NEW YORK (AP) — After a trio of new announcements this week, the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential field is all but set. A handful of stragglers may jump in later, but as of now there are at least 10 high-profile Republican candidates officially seeking their party’s nomination. And with the announcement phase of the primary […]

1 day ago

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak watches a drone demonstration as he visits the Friendship Techno...

Associated Press

Biden and Sunak to focus on Ukraine and economic security in British PM’s first White House visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rishi Sunak for wide-ranging talks on Thursday as the British leader makes his first White House visit as premier. The leaders’ Oval Office talks are expected to cover the war in Ukraine, China, economic security, international cooperation on regulating the growing field of artificial intelligence, and more. Biden and Sunak have already […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]



Why drug-free weight loss still matters

Wanting to lose weight is a common goal for many people as they progress throughout life, but choosing between a holistic approach or to take medicine can be a tough decision.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Debt ceiling: McCarthy wins 1st round, Biden eyes long game