The House narrowly passed Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s debt ceiling bill on Wednesday, handing the Republican leader a key legislative win and setting the stage for him to restart negotiations with the White House before risking a default on the country’s loans.
Lawmakers passed the debt ceiling proposal along party lines with a 217-215 vote, with just four Republicans voting against the measure. The passage comes after days of marathon meetings and hourslong deliberations among Republicans to craft legislation that could give McCarthy leverage as he seeks to make a deal with President Joe Biden.
McCarthy unveiled his long-awaited debt ceiling bill last week, proposing to raise the debt ceiling over the next year either by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024, whichever comes first. The Limit, Save, Grow Act seeks to cool inflation and limit government spending by reducing discretionary funds to pre-pandemic levels and capping budget increases 1% each year, among other provisions.
Despite vowing to move the legislation to the floor without any changes, McCarthy did make a number of concessions late Tuesday night in order to get some key GOP lawmakers on board.
Most notably, McCarthy agreed to make changes to one of his provisions that would repeal tax credits on clean fuels after concerns from some Midwestern lawmakers, particularly from Iowa. After meeting with members of the Iowa delegation late Tuesday, McCarthy agreed to include exceptions to preserve those credits for those who entered into binding contracts between August 2022 and April 19.
Proposals to cut those ethanol tax credits threatened to sink McCarthy’s bill after at least eight Republicans from the “Corn Belt” said they’d vote against the bill unless changes were made. Those threats put McCarthy in a bind because he can only lose four GOP votes on any piece of legislation due to his slim majority in the House.