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GOP Debt-Ceiling Bill Progresses in U.S. House

A Republican bill proposes increasing the U.S. government's debt ceiling to $31.4 trillion and reducing spending advanced in the House of Representatives. The progress followed party leaders agreeing to last-minute amendments in response to opposition.

U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. House of Representatives

Procedural Vote Outcome

The procedural vote to initiate debate on the bill was approved in a 219-210 party-line vote.

Overnight Changes to the Bill

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy allowed overnight modifications to the bill to address Midwestern Republican concerns regarding biofuel tax credits and to incorporate hardliners' demands for stricter work requirements for some low-income Americans.

House Vote Anticipation

McCarthy informed reporters that a House vote would occur later in the day without disclosing whether he had the 218 votes necessary to pass the legislation.

Majority and Default Risk

McCarthy could only afford to lose four votes from his narrow 222-213 majority to pass the bill, which he viewed as crucial for compelling Democratic President Joe Biden to negotiate spending cuts as a condition of raising the debt ceiling. Please act to avoid a disastrous default.

Decreasing Opposition

There were indications that the concerns that had previously hindered the package were beginning to fade.

Biofuels Changes and Far-Right Demands

The overnight revisions removed a provision that would have terminated a biofuel tax credit from Biden's climate change initiatives in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. Additionally, Republicans agreed to new, tougher work requirements for receiving Medicaid healthcare benefits for low-income people.

House Republicans' Offer

House Republicans are proposing to increase Washington's borrowing authority by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, whichever comes first. The bill would trim spending to 2022 levels, cap growth at 1% per year, repeal some tax incentives for renewable energy and reinforce work requirements for some antipoverty programs.

Opposition and High Stakes

Various House Republicans opposed the bill for different reasons, including concerns about insufficient spending cuts or potential negative impacts on their home districts. The stakes are high as a lengthy 2011 debt-ceiling standoff led to a downgrade of the U.S. government's credit rating and higher borrowing costs.

White House's Stance and Deadline Uncertainty

The White House has urged Congress to raise the debt limit without conditions. Lawmakers are unsure how much time remains to act, as the "x-date" when the Treasury Department would no longer be able to pay all its bills could arrive as early as June or later in the summer.

Democrats' Concerns

Democrats argue that the proposed 10-year tradeoff of spending cuts is unreasonable for a debt ceiling increase that would initiate another potentially difficult round of negotiations early next year, coinciding with the presidential campaign.