McCarthy clears first hurdle in passing debt ceiling deal: House committee advances bill

 WASHINGTON − The debt ceiling bill is one step closer to passing in the House.

The House Rules Committee voted Tuesday evening to bring the legislation to the House floor for a vote by the full chamber − a move that marks a significant hurdle for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., after GOP hardliners on the committee threatened to oppose advancing the legislation.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. was a crucial Republican vote for advancing the bill. 

"My interest of being on this committee was not to imprint my ideology. I think that is an inappropriate use of the Rules Committee," he said Tuesday afternoon.

Lawmakers on the committee approved the legislation 7-6. Two Republican lawmakers, Reps. Chip Roy of Texas and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, voted with the committee's four Democratic lawmakers.

The Biden-McCarthy deal would suspend the debt ceiling through the end of 2024, keep discretionary spending flat next year and cap spending at a 1% increase in 2025.

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Freedom Caucus members vote no

Two Freedom Caucus members who serve on the committee − Norman and Roy − opposed the legislation and voted against advancing it to the full House floor.

During the speaker vote last January, McCarthy made concessions to some Freedom Caucus members by giving committee assignments on key congressional panels like the powerful House Rules Committee, which is tasked with bringing legislation to the House floor. Both Norman and Roy opposed McCarthy as speaker earlier this year and expressed concerns over the debt ceiling deal.  

“It’s not a good deal,” Roy tweeted. "Some $4 trillion in debt for - at best - a two year spending freeze and no serious substantive policy reforms.”

What happens next?

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy waves to Capitol visitors while walking back to his office after gaveling the house chambers to order on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. The House Rules Committee will take up the debt ceiling legislation later in the day and will hash out a rule to bring the measure to the floor. The debate could provide an early sign of whether Republicans who control the House will hold together to support the package McCarthy and Biden negotiated.

The House will now take a full vote on the legislation, which is set to happen as early as Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, more than 20 GOP lawmakers said they would oppose the bill during a full House floor vote. This means McCarthy could need full support from the Democratic caucus to reach the 218 votes needed to pass the legislation through the House.

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