Republican Senators aren’t happy with the debt ceiling deal passed in Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s House Wednesday evening – claiming it will be ‘about as popular as Bud Light.’
Utah Sen. Mike Lee is among those in the upper chamber the most critical of the bill, calling out McCarthy’s agreement with President Joe Biden for ‘not going far enough.’
‘If this bill did what its lead advocates claimed that it did, I’d be thrilled to vote for it,’ he told Fox & Friends on Thursday morning.
‘In case after case, the cuts it proposes won’t materialize,’ he added, claiming that some of the supposed ‘deals’ that House Republicans claimed as wins are ‘fake’ in the sense that they won’t provide the desired outcome for the GOP.
Lee played on some of Republican voters biggest gripes in pop culture currently by comparing the deal to raise the debt ceiling to companies wading into the waters or promoting transgender policies – like Bud Light using trans social media star Dylan Mulvaney to promote their brew and Target for unveiling a line of ‘tuck-friendly’ childrens’ swimwear for Pride Month.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee says that the debt ceiling bill passed in the House is as bad to Republicans as brands promoting transgender clothing lines or using trans stars to promote their products
He specifically called out Bud Light’s use of transgender social media star Dylan Mulvaney to promote their brew earlier this year – leading to widespread boycotts and backlash from Republicans and their usual blue collar customers
‘Once the Biden-McCarthy deal is fully understood, it will be about as popular with Republican voters as Bud Light … purchased on sale at Target,’ Sen. Lee tweeted.
His post was accompanied by a graphic of the Capitol opened with money flying out of the roof with the caption: ‘The Biden-McCarthy Deal: The Republican Party’s Bud Light (Available Only At Target).’
Democrats helped McCarthy pass the controversial debt limit deal in a 314 to 117 vote late Wednesday night. The bill will suspend the $31 trillion ceiling for two years.
Seventy one conservative Republicans voted ‘no’ – claiming the package doesn’t cut spending enough, will add $4 trillion to the debt and represented a cave to the Democratic White House.
But 165 Democrats voted in favor of the deal and punted the bill to the Senate as lawmakers scramble to stop the U.S. from defaulting on its debts in just four days.
The deal means the U.S. government can keep borrowing money to pay its bills until January 2025 – after the 2024 presidential election next November.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who also says he won’t vote to pass the deal, proposed a counter bill in the upper chamber, which, by a razor-thin margin, is controlled by Democrats.
The ‘conservative alternative’ would increase the debt ceiling by only $500 billion and kick the can down the road on some other provisions by requiring a return to the negotiating table in a few months to work out the spending reforms.
Paul claims his proposal would balance the budget by 2028 by penalizing federal government if it continues spending at the current rate by initiating an automatic $302 billion cut to take effect in 2024 and another $241 billion cut in 2025.
The House bill passed Wednesday limits National Security spending in fiscal year 2024 to $886 billion – in line with President Biden’s budget request – and caps it at $895 billion in 2025, a one percent increase.
It claws back roughly $29billion in unspent COVID funds, ends the pause on Biden’s student loan repayments and cuts $1.9 billion – plus an additional $20 billion in the future – of the $80 billion for new IRS agents.
House Democrats helped Kevin McCarthy pass the debt limit deal he made with President Joe Biden that will suspend the $31 trillion limit for two years in a 314 to 117 vote in the House late Wednesday night
It also leaves non-defense discretionary spending flat in 2024 and allows for a one percent increase in 2025 – essentially amounting to cuts since inflation is not factored in.
Senators have already demanded amendments to the bill, that could delay it, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said there is not time to send an amended version back to the House before the nation runs out of funds to pay its bills.
Sec. Janet Yellen has said the U.S. only has until June 5 before the Treasury runs up against the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the bill would cut deficits by $1.5 trillion over the next decade compared with previous projections – but some informal estimates say it could allow the debt to swell to $35 trillion.
‘This is fabulous. This is one of the best nights I’ve ever been here,’ McCarthy gloated in a press conference after the deal passed.
The jubilant House speaker said there were a number of times throughout tense negotiations that dragged throughout Memorial Day Weekend that he did not believe a deal would materialize.
‘This negotiation blew up a number of times, where I wasn’t sure at times we were going to get something. There were times that one side will say to the others, maybe we need to give up. Maybe we have to have somebody else different in the room,’ McCarthy said. ‘But the one thing that happened is that we didn’t give up.’
‘This is fabulous. This is one of the best nights I’ve ever been here,’ McCarthy gloated in a press conference after the deal passed, despite an uprising from his party
Seventy one conservative Republicans voted no – claiming the package doesn’t cut spending enough, will add $4trillion to the debt and represented a cave to the White House
Republican negotiators and top McCarthy deputies Rep. Garret Graves (left) and Patrick McHenry (right) walk through Congress as they pushed the vote through
Asked how the political battle changed his relationship with Biden, McCarthy quipped: ‘Well, he hasn’t invited me to dinner or lunch.’
‘I respect anybody in that office,’ he added.
Lead negotiator Garret Graves praised McCarthy for getting the bill to pass overwhelmingly through the House. ‘The man standing behind me is one of the best strategists I’ve ever seen in my life,’ he said.
‘Tonight, the House took a critical step forward to prevent a first-ever default and protect our country’s hard-earned and historic economic recovery,’ Biden said in a statement praising passage Wednesday evening.
Members from the ideological far right and far left voiced their opposition to the deal, known as the Fiscal Responsibility Act, in the run-up to the vote.
Republicans lined up to oppose the deal even faster than Democrats – and the House Freedom Caucus formally whipped its members to vote against it.
GOP leadership was forced to play defense after the right flank of their conference claimed the deal was not conservative enough and gave in too much to the White House.
‘To say we didn’t push [the White House] to the brink, to say that we didn’t maximize negotiations, it’s just an uninformed position…it’s just really unfortunate that people have put us in the situation,’ Graves told reporters Wednesday.
‘They don’t understand what’s in the bill,’ lead negotiator Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., told reporters of his colleagues who said they would vote ‘no.’
After the vote, McHenry added: ‘There are a lot of folks that wanted to make the perfect enemy of good. This was quite a good package.’
‘Is it everything I wanted? No,’ McCarthy admitted.
Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said McCarthy promised to deliver around 150 GOP votes — meaning McCarthy factored in about 70 defections.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy unveiled the 99-page bill raising the debt ceiling to avoid the U.S. defaulting over Memorial Day weekend
McCarthy had to walk a careful line of ushering a deal with Democrats through that will stave off a calamitous default and holding on to his speakership.
Freedom Caucus members who balked at suspending the debt ceiling until 2025, as agreed to in the deal, have floated the idea of invoking a motion to vacate – in which one member can force a vote on the House floor to oust McCarthy.
Lead negotiator Rep. Garret Graves tore into Freedom Caucus members who have publicly bad-mouthed the deal even before text was released.
Asked about Roy’s criticisms, Graves told reporters ‘there was some trust lost.’
‘There really was, and I’m really offended.’
Rep. Chip Roy said there would be a ‘reckoning’ if the deal was passed, and ‘we’re going to have to then regroup and figure out the whole leadership arrangement again.’
Meanwhile Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., called the deal a ‘s*** sandwich’ and insisted the motion to vacate was on the table.
On Wednesday Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said McCarthy ‘should be concerned’ about a motion to vacate after the deal passes.
‘He will win the vote tonight, but after this vote we will have discussions about whether there should be a motion to vacate or not,’ he told CNN.
Jeffries did not rule out the possibility of Democrats stepping in to save McCarthy’s speakership, worried the Republican alternative could be less pragmatic.
‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,’ Jeffries told reporters, adding that Democrats have not discussed a ‘hypothetical.’
The debt limit deal includes $136 billion in budget cuts over the next two years – hardly a dent in the nation’s over $30 trillion in debt. But even libertarian-minded Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said in announcing he would support the deal: ‘I’ve been in Congress for a decade and this is the first real bill that cuts spending.’
Conservative House Republicans have outlined an array of criticism on the deal struck by Biden and McCarthy last weekend that will now be voted on in the Senate
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now scrambling to make sure the bill gets through the upper house before the United States runs out of money
He added that he hoped for further spending cuts in the 12 appropriations bills Congress must pass later this year.
Congress is also required under the new bill to approve 12 annual spending bills or face a snapback to spending limits from the previous year.
The bill also expands work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – even though the changes are a pared-down version of what conservatives really want.
While there are already work requirements for most able-bodied adults between 18 and 49, the bill raises the age limit to 54, but has an expiration date and would lower the age right back down to 49 in 2030.
The agreement would also make it more difficult for states to waive work requirements for SNAP by lowering the number of exemptions permitted at the state-level each month.
Democrats also won some new expanded benefits for veterans, homeless people and young people aging out of foster care. And in a last-minute snafu for Republicans, a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), actually said the amount spent on SNAP would increase by $2.1 billion given the new exemptions.
The deal also stipulated that student loan payments would resume August 29, but did not rescind President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program as Republicans had hoped.
The deal cuts some $21.4 billion from the IRS, which gained an additional $80 billion in funding from Democrats last Congress, but only immediately claws back $1.4 billion. White House officials said Biden agreed to shift $10 billion from the IRS to other funding priorities in fiscal year 2024 and another $10 billion in fiscal year 2025.
It also allows for Congress to claw back some $30 billion in unspent Covid-19 relief funds, but it remains to be seen whether states will actually send the money back or find ways to spend it.
The deal also included permitting reform provisions – and curiously stipulated an approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia – which Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., had been pushing for.