Debt ceiling agreement in principle reached between Biden, McCarthy; quickly slammed as ‘total garbage’

The language of the debt ceiling bill was still being drafted Saturday night after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced an “agreement in principle” with President Joe Biden, but reports about its contents left some decrying it as “total garbage.”

While many in Congress had returned to their districts for Memorial Day weekend, some had remained in Washington, D.C. to hash out a deal ahead of the June 1 deadline. Late Saturday, McCarthy held a brief press conference to announce the status of the negotiations he considered “worthy of the American people.”

“We still have a lot of work to do. But I believe this is an agreement in principle that’s worthy of the American people. It has historic reductions in spending, consequential reforms that will lift people out of poverty into the workforce — rein in government overreach,” the speaker suggested. “There are no new taxes, no new government programs. There’s a lot more within the bill.”

A key sticking point for fiscal conservatives throughout the debt fight had been seeking meaningful spending cuts in exchange for a limited increase on the debt ceiling. With the specific language still being drafted, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) reacted to details that had been distributed to the Republican Conference and tweeted, “I do not like the ‘deal’ as I understand it from the cheerleading so far… I will have more to follow once I see more details.”

His apprehensions appeared warranted as Greg Price reported, “Sources on Capitol Hill tell me the debt ceiling deal McCarthy negotiated with Biden includes no legitimate spending cuts or significant reforms in exchange for a $4 trillion debt ceiling increase. Just a freeze next year followed by 1% increase in ’25 adjusted for inflation…Total garbage considering the leverage the GOP conference had here.”

Price went on to include a talking points memo that called out the House Freedom Caucus’ effort to rein in out of control spending, marking the White House’s negotiation with McCarthy as a victory over congressional conservatives.

“The House Freedom Caucus tried to hold hostage our economy, working families’ retirements and livelihoods, and the full faith and credit of the United States — and failed,” the memo said before contending, “The deal does not return funding to FY 2022, and instead keeps non-defense spending roughly flat with current (FY 2023) levels in 2024 when factoring in agreed upon appropriations adjustments.”

“The agreed-upon levels reflect what the Administration had successfully negotiated at the end of last calendar year,” it continued. “And, the deal follows two years of the Administration securing substantial increases in key investments such as Title I (Elementary and Secondary Education), CCDBG (Child Care and Development Block Grant), cancer research and more.”

Biden himself had said, “It is an important step forward that reduces spending while protecting critical programs for working people and growing the economy for everyone. And, the agreement protects my and Congressional Democrats’ key priorities and legislative accomplishments. The agreement represents a compromise, which means not everyone gets what they want.”

Even Elon Musk chimed in over the reported deal and remarked “Really?”

Pessimism about the deal was not the standard among Republicans as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said, “If I understand, for the first time in US history, we’re spending less money than the year before. That seems like a pretty darn good deal to me.”

However, Roy went on to juxtapose the alternative “Limit, Save, Grow” plan with the debt ceiling agreement that highlighted much of what could be expected about the final language including an expiration of Jan. 1, 2025, just in time for a lame duck deal with unknown debt increases.

A vote on the package is currently expected to take place in the House on Wednesday when Congress returns from recess.


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