Yet the speaker can only lose four Republicans and still pass his debt limit legislation. Most House Republicans are on board, but McCarthy’s leadership team remains short of the 218 votes it needs to pass. Conversations continued over the weekend to try to bring latecomers into the “yes” camp.
Even if McCarthy is able to push his debt limit bill through House approval, the legislation is dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Instead, the GOP debt bill is effectively a messaging tool for Republicans in their push for talks with President Joe Biden, who has so far insisted on an unconditional increase in the ceiling. debt.
The Treasury Department has already been using “extraordinary measures” for months to delay a default as an unclear “X date” looms. But there may be more clarity soon: The Congressional Budget Office and the Bipartisan Policy Center plan to release updated projections the second week of May.
Agitation for changes to the legislation began almost as soon as the text of the bill was released last week, including a higher bar for work requirements for Medicaid and food assistance programs and a date start earlier. As written, the measure would require Medicaid recipients to work 80 hours a month or 20 hours a week.
“Work requirements in the House Debt Limitation Bill are to begin in 2024, not 2025 (as it is currently drafted). The reason we required 72 hours to review the legislation is so we could identify and resolve issues with specific details like this. Let’s get to work!” representing Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
Gaetz was in a meeting last Thursday with the management team of McCarthy, the chairman of the budget Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and the leaders of the conference’s various factions, discussing both work demands and the general temperature across the conference.
The elimination of certain tax credits, from ethanol to biofuels, is another source of stress for some members, but confidence that these will not survive any White House deal has eased concerns.
Other items on the bill include the recovery of pandemic funds and IRS funding for customer service and the search for tax evaders, a spending cap at fiscal year 2022 levels, a reduction in tax credits. energy tax from the Inflation Reduction Act and stricter work requirements for beneficiaries. food stamps and Medicaid benefits. As written, this would increase the debt limit until March 2024 or until the debt reaches $32.9 trillion, whichever comes first.
The House Rules Committee is considering the bill on Tuesday afternoon, a precursor to a floor vote. If McCarthy needed more time to vote, the House, which does not return from its weekend recess until Tuesday, is expected to reconvene on Friday.