The Home of Representatives passes the invoice and sends it to the Senate
US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) departs his office at the US Capitol on May 30, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images
WASHINGTON — A bill to raise the debt ceiling and limit government spending was passed by a large majority late Wednesday in the House of Representatives and advanced to the Senate just days before the standard US deadline on Monday.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act passed by a vote of 314-117 with support from both Democrats and Republicans.
It was a dramatic conclusion to weeks of tense negotiations between the White House and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
That drama now shifts to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where leaders on both sides want it passed within 48 hours. Late Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., stood in a nearly empty Senate room to officially place the bill on Thursday’s calendar.
“There was a very good vote in the House of Representatives. I hope we can move the bill forward quickly here in the Senate and get it to the President as soon as possible,” Schumer said.
The White House’s response was measured. “Neither side got everything they wanted. That’s the government’s responsibility,” President Joe Biden said in a statement immediately after the vote. Biden thanked McCarthy for “the good faith negotiations” and urged the Senate to pass the bill quickly.
For McCarthy, the vote was a personal victory worth celebrating. “I’ve been thinking about that day, before mine [election as] Speaker because I knew the debt ceiling was coming. I wanted to make history,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday evening
“It wasn’t an easy fight. I upset people on both sides,” McCarthy said. “But I think we’ve done a hell of a lot of good for the American people.”
But amid the celebrations, some Republicans were furious. “The disastrous debt ceiling agreement just passed with more Democratic than Republican votes,” said Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, an outspoken opponent of the bill. “Tells you everything you need to know,” he said, calling the bill “shameful” in a tweet late Wednesday.
The fact that McCarthy’s bill passed by 165 Democratic votes but only 149 Republican votes surprised many. Earlier, just 29 Republicans voted against a measure to start debate on the bill, a final procedural step that often serves as a litmus test for the final record.
But not in this case. On Wednesday night, 71 Republicans opposed McCarthy and voted against the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said federal funds could dry up in the coming days if lawmakers don’t raise the borrowing limit before next week.
Failure to do so would anger global financial markets, trigger US job losses and jeopardize vital government benefits for millions of Americans.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act is the result of an agreement between McCarthy and Biden that essentially gave the conservatives several ideological political victories in exchange for their votes to raise the debt ceiling beyond next year’s presidential election into 2025.
Most importantly, the bill averts a potentially catastrophic US debt default that could materialize next week if Congress doesn’t pass the bill by then.