The Republican issues a warning to Kevin McCarthy

During weeks of high-level debt ceiling talks, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s control of the Republican conference has arguably been his greatest strength.

After 15 ballots to become president this year – a point he has consistently emphasized throughout discussions with reporters this month – McCarthy has demonstrated a firm grasp of his slim House majority, not yielding a thumb in negotiations, even as the federal government hurdles to default on its debts as early as next week.

But Home is Home; the Senate is the Senate. And unlike McCarthy’s conference, Senate Republicans may not be willing to go along with whatever deal he eventually strikes, as Biden’s majority balance remains in question.

Utah Senator Mike Lee (left) and House Speaker Joe McCarthy. Lee indicated Thursday that he may not accept the terms of a compromise in the work between the Republican-controlled House and the White House on the debt ceiling.
Olivier Douliery/Saul Loeb/Newsweek Photo Illustration/Getty Images

On Thursday, Utah Sen. Mike Lee signaled he might not be willing to agree to a McCarthy-brokered compromise if the spending cuts he’s been asking for aren’t as substantial as the hawks of the deficit in both chambers originally wanted it, which dims the prospects for any deal in the tightly controlled Senate by Democrats.

“I will use every procedural tool at my disposal to prevent a debt ceiling agreement that does not contain substantial spending and fiscal reforms,” ​​Lee wrote on Twitter. “I fear things will move in that direction. If so, this proposal will not be easy in the Senate.”

Newsweek contacted McCarthy’s office via email for comment.

It is currently unknown what Lee’s concerns are. On Thursday, House Republicans signaled they would leave town before any deal is reached, and at this point in the negotiations neither side has given up much.

In guidelines released this week, Republicans ruled out the possibility of new tax revenue, cuts to military spending, and cuts to Social Security and Medicare. However, they remained committed to lobbying work requirements for those receiving these social services, a policy seen as a red line for Democrats.

But some Democrats have refused to accept any of the Republicans’ proposed blanket cuts in discretionary spending, which they say will hurt health care and social services for the country’s most vulnerable citizens. at a time when the Biden administration has argued that its plan will substantially reduce the federal debt.

In return, Republicans have expressed their willingness to play on the brink with the federal debt ceiling, potentially putting the United States at risk of defaulting on debt payments and causing the global economy to collapse.

Some Democrats have also flirted with the prospect of Biden invoking his authority under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution to override Congress. However, it’s unclear whether Biden would take that step, given his longstanding deference to the legislature and the likelihood of a potential fight with the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, on Thursday, the Associated Press reported that Republicans were potentially easing their demand for increased national defense spending in exchange for funding cuts to the Internal Revenue Service’s tax compliance division, which Biden has sued in his efforts to increase tax revenues for the country’s wealthiest. taxpayers.

But McCarthy’s red line is simple. Any deal, he said this week, must “spend less than we spent last year”.


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