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

Apr 27, 2023, 6:00 PM

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

FILE - Konrad Bicher, who dubbed himself the "Wolf of Airbnb," leaves Federal Court, in New York, M...

Associated Press

Self-professed ‘Wolf of Airbnb’ sentenced to over 4 years in prison for defrauding landlords

NEW YORK (AP) — A Florida man who boasted that he was the “Wolf of Airbnb” was sentenced Monday to over four years in prison for defrauding New York City landlords and a federal pandemic-relief government program. Konrad Bicher, 32, of Hialeah, Florida, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Lorna G. Schofield. The […]

11 minutes ago

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the press after a bilateral meeting with Panamanian For...

Associated Press

Heading to Asia, Blinken aims to shore up Indo-Pacific ties and stress US commitment to the region

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ignoring the political chaos surrounding President Joe Biden’s decision to end his reelection campaign, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will head to Asia this week on a long-planned eight-day trip aimed at shoring up ties with Indo-Pacific allies and partners but with the priority of assuring them that the United States remains […]

20 minutes ago

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, J...

Associated Press

Black voters feel excitement, hope and a lot of worry as Harris takes center stage in campaign

ATLANTA (AP) — Black voters expressed a mix of hope and worry Monday over Joe Biden’s exit from the presidential race and the prospect of Vice President Kamala Harris becoming the Democratic nominee. A key Democratic constituency, Black voters helped power Biden to victory in the 2020 primaries and ultimately to the White House, and […]

56 minutes ago

This undated photo provided by the family's lawyers in July 2024 shows Sonya Massey of Springfield,...

Associated Press

Officials to release video of officer shooting Black woman in her home after responding to 911 call

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Officials in Illinois’ capital plan to release video on Monday of police entering the home of a woman who called 911 for help and the violent scene that ensued when a sheriff’s deputy shot her in the face. The Illinois State Police announced that Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Milhiser will […]

1 hour ago

FILE - The Fulton County, Ga., Jail is seen, April 11, 2023, in Atlanta. The Bail Project, a nation...

Associated Press

National bail fund returns to Georgia after judge says limits were arbitrary

ATLANTA (AP) — The Bail Project, a national nonprofit that aids thousands of low-income people behind bars, said Monday it is reopening its Atlanta branch after a judge temporarily blocked part of a Georgia law that restricts organizations from helping people pay bail. Last month, the Bail Project said it would no longer be able […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Shooting outside a Mississippi nightclub kills 3 and injures more than a dozen

INDIANOLA, Miss. (AP) — A shooting outside a Mississippi nightclub left three people dead and more than a dozen injured over the weekend, authorities said. A large crowd gathered outside a club near the Sunflower County courthouse in Indianola early Sunday, and officers were putting up barriers to help with traffic flow before the shooting […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

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