Some members of the House Freedom Caucus said that a proposed deal announced by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to raise the debt ceiling for two years ahead of a possible federal government default doesn’t go far enough.
Negotiators are now racing to finalize the bill’s text. McCarthy said Saturday that House will vote on the legislation on Wednesday, giving the Senate time to consider it before June 5, the date when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the United States could default on its debt obligations if lawmakers did not act in time.
But Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), one of the House Freedom members, wrote that he would pass on the proposed deal. “A $4 trillion debt ceiling increase? With virtually none of the key fiscally responsible policies passed in the Limit, Save, Grow Act kept intact? Hard pass. Hold the line,” he wrote on Twitter Saturday.
“I listened to Speaker McCarthy earlier tonight outline the deal with President Biden and I am appalled by the debt ceiling surrender. The bottom line is that the U.S. will have $35 trillion of debt in January, 2025. That is completely unacceptable,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter, echoing statements made by other caucus members.
“A $4T debt ceiling increase with virtually no cuts is not what we agreed to. Not gonna vote to bankrupt our country. The American people deserve better,” wrote Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) on the social media platform, while Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) wrote Sunday that the proposal includes “ZERO claw back of the $1.2 Trillion ‘inflation reduction act’ crony giveaways to elite leftists for grid-destroying unreliable energy.”
The agreement would keep non-defense spending roughly flat in the 2024 fiscal year and increase it by 1 percent the following year, as well as provide for a two-year debt-limit increase—past the next presidential election in 2024, an anonymous source told The Associated Press over the weekend. The final details of the proposal have not yet been released to the public.
Some conservatives expressed early concerns that the compromise does not cut future deficits enough, while Democrats have been worried about proposed changes to work requirements in programs such as food stamps.
But McCarthy defended his “agreement on principle” debt ceiling deal with President Joe Biden on Sunday amid the criticism. The speaker acknowledged that some Republicans may not have got everything they wanted in the legislation but said that Democrats received little in concessions.
“Maybe it doesn’t do everything for everyone, but this is a step in the right direction that no one thought that we would be able to today,” McCarthy told Fox News in an interview on Sunday. “I’ll debate this bill with anybody,” he continued. “Is it everything I wanted? No, because we don’t control all of it. But it is the biggest recession in history. It is the biggest cut Congress has ever voted for in that process.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy suggested that the majority of his Republican conference would back the tentative deal with the Biden administration, which would raise the debt ceiling for another two years at the least. He also touted the bill, which he said would be about 150 pages, as a win for the GOP after the Biden administration held out on negotiations for several months.
“I think you are going to get a majority of Republicans voting for this bill,” McCarthy said in the interview. “We were able to do this when the president said he wasn’t even going to talk to us,” he added. “Right now, the Democrats are very upset.”
Before Saturday’s announcement, some members of the House Freedom Caucus said that McCarthy should stand firm in debt negotiations.
“First, President Biden delayed engagement with Congress for months on the debt ceiling and, now that he is engaging, press reports indicate he is pushing to water down the provisions of the House-passed Limit, Save, Grow Act while simultaneously demanding a debt ceiling increase of $4 trillion or more (well beyond the $1.5 trillion provided in the House bill),” 35 Republican lawmakers wrote last week.
And they added: “In response to the President’s preposterous position, we encourage you to add additional provisions to the Limit, Save, Grow Act such as the inclusion of the recently passed Secure the Border Act and the end to funding for the FBI’s massive (larger than the Pentagon) new headquarters.”
Republicans had also sought to repeal Biden’s efforts to waive $10,000 to $20,000 in debt for nearly all borrowers who took out student loans. But the provision was a nonstarter for Democrats. The budget agreement would keep Biden’s student loan relief in place, though the Supreme Court will have the ultimate say on the matter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.