House Republicans are working overtime to lock down support among their conference for the debt-limit agreement between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden as conservatives openly trash the bipartisan deal.
Top House Republicans, including committee chairs and others directly involved in negotiations over the past few weeks, claimed victory to reporters Monday as they made the case that they secured major spending concessions from Mr. Biden despite their limited control over Washington.
“House Republicans will restore fiscal sanity and hold Washington accountable,” said House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York. “This is a historic Republican victory consisting of historic reductions in spending, which will rein in government overreach, limit inflationary spending and lift millions of Americans out of poverty.”
House Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry, North Carolina Republican and a main negotiator, argued the House GOP forced Mr. Biden to the table and produced legislation that is a “great down payment on what a Republican-led Washington can bring to restore fiscal sanity.”
The agreement waives the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling until January 2025 and, if passed in the coming days before an expected June 5 deadline, will avoid the nation defaulting.
The deal includes freezing domestic spending for the upcoming fiscal year starting Oct. 1 at its current levels; increasing defense spending in line with Mr. Biden’s previous request at more than $26 billion; clawing back billions in unspent pandemic relief; and cutting IRS funding by roughly $20 billion over a decade.
Non-defense discretionary spending is capped for six years at a 1% annual increase but is only enforceable for the first two years.
Republicans also secured a pay-as-you-go mechanism known as “Paygo,” which will require the Biden administration to offset the costs of new policies with cuts or added revenue.
Irking Democrats, the bill also puts time limits on environmental reviews to fast-track new energy projects and imposes stricter work requirements for food stamps.
Despite the concessions touted by Republican leaders, conservatives — particularly those in the House Freedom Caucus — are seething.
Republicans like Rep. Ralph Norman of North Carolina described the deal as “insanity,” Rep. Chip Roy of Texas labeled it a “turd sandwich,” Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado said “our voters deserve better,” Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado called it “completely unacceptable” and Rep. Bob Good of Virginia said that “no one claiming to be a conservative could justify a ‘yes’ vote.”
Mr. Roy, one of several potential GOP opponents who sits on the Rules Committee, intends to try to block the deal when it comes before his panel Tuesday for a key procedural vote to advance the legislation to the full chamber.
Rep. John Rutherford, Florida Republican and an Appropriations Committee member, urged fellow GOP lawmakers to “resist the urge to want to play the Hail Mary all the time” without control of both chambers and the White House.
“We don’t control all those levers of power,” Mr. Rutherford told reporters. “We can’t throw a Hail Mary pass on every play, which is what some in our conference may want to do.”
Top Democrats and the White House, meanwhile, are also fervently working to corral their members and stave off liberal defectors in the Progressive Caucus.
Mr. Biden revealed Monday that he’s purposely refrained from more aggressively selling the deal or claiming victory as a political strategy.
“One of the things that I hear some of you guys saying is ‘why doesn’t Biden say what a good deal it is’?” he told reporters at the White House. “You think that’s going to help me get it passed? No. That’s why you guys don’t bargain very well.”