Biden and McCarthy’s Debt Ceiling Deal Faces GOP Revolt in Congress

Hard-right Republicans were in open revolt on Tuesday over Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s deal with President Biden to raise the government debt ceiling and set federal spending limits, threatening the legislation — and potentially Mr. McCarthy’s job — as the bill began an obstacle-laden route through Congress.

“Not one Republican should vote for this bill,” Representative Chip Roy, a Texas Republican and influential member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, said at a news conference outside the Capitol. “We will continue to fight it today, tomorrow, and no matter what happens, there’s going to be a reckoning about what just occurred unless we stop this bill by tomorrow.”

Another member of the group, Representative Dan Bishop of North Carolina, said he considered the deal grounds for ousting Mr. McCarthy from his post, something that any one lawmaker can attempt thanks to a rule Mr. McCarthy agreed to while he was grasping for the votes for his job.

“I’m fed up with the lies. I’m fed up with the lack of courage, the cowardice,” Mr. Bishop said, adding later of Mr. McCarthy’s negotiations on the debt limit bill, “Nobody could have done a worse job.”

Despite the outcry, Mr. McCarthy continued to express optimism that the legislation would pass, shrugging off the criticism and dismissing any concern for his own survival with a terse “no” during brief comments at the Capitol.

“I’m confident we’ll pass the bill,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters. Ticking off what he described as major savings in the package, he added: “If people are against saving all that money, or work reforms in welfare reform — I can’t do anything about that.”

The clash over the legislation came as the House Rules Committee met to set the parameters for a vote that Mr. McCarthy hoped to hold on Wednesday before handing off the issue to the Senate. Time is of the essence for the bill, with a default projected in less than a week if Congress fails to act.

While the panel is typically a rubber stamp for party leaders, the committee includes Mr. Roy and other right-wing Republicans whom Mr. McCarthy added in January to help him win over conservatives during his battle for the speakership. Now that concession has proved problematic, with far-right members threatening to use their seats on the panel to block a plan that they argue does not cut spending enough.

Deepening Mr. McCarthy’s challenge in rounding up the 218 votes needed to pass the plan, Republican opposition was coming from beyond the most conservative wing of the party, including from some members seen as closely aligned with the speaker. Among those weighing in against the bill on Tuesday was Representative Wesley Hunt, a first-term Republican from Texas who backed Mr. McCarthy in the speaker’s fight, flying back amid a family health emergency in January to cast a crucial vote to elect him to the top House post.

“The concessions made by the speaker in his negotiations with President Biden fall far short of my expectations and the expectations of my friends and neighbors in Congressional District 38,” Mr. Hunt wrote on Twitter.

The backlash to the plan from the right appeared to be fueled in part by mounting public opposition from conservative advocacy groups with strong ties to Republican lawmakers, including the Heritage Foundation, the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. The groups were promising to include the vote in their ratings of lawmakers, effectively threatening to downgrade anyone who supported it.

“The legislation does not meet the moment, and I urge House Republicans to reconsider their support and take a stand to stop reckless spending,” said Adam Brandon, the president of FreedomWorks.

With Republicans experiencing early defections, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the New York Democrat and minority leader, warned that they would still have to deliver a significant number of votes in support.

“Initially we heard that 95 percent of the House Republican conference would support the agreement,” said Mr. Jeffries, alluding to a comment Mr. McCarthy made after briefing his rank and file about the deal. “That doesn’t appear to be the case. But what we are also committed to making sure occurs is that the House Republicans keep their promise to produce at least 150 votes.”

As for where Democrats stood, Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the group was polling its members to decide whether to take an official position on the bill. She said the legislation included provisions that she and her members were extremely concerned about, including restrictions on nutritional assistance programs and the greenlighting of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, but did not vow to oppose it.

The bill was finalized on Sunday after Mr. Biden and Mr. McCarthy sealed their deal, and aides rushed to draft it into legislation that will have to be considered swiftly to avoid a default as soon as June 5, when Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has estimated the federal government will run out of cash to pay its bills without action by Congress.

Two of the Rules Committee’s arch-conservative members, Mr. Roy and Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina, could vote against allowing it to move forward, in a sharp rebuke to the speaker. If they were joined by another Republican on the committee, they could sideline the agreement before it even reached the floor.

A third ultraconservative on the panel, Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, is considered a potential ally of Mr. Roy and Mr. Norman but has shown receptiveness to the debt limit deal. He has cited a provision he helped write that would automatically cut spending if Congress failed to enact the annual appropriations bills. Lawmakers are generally expected to back bills they had a hand in writing, even if they object to other aspects.

“This debt deal arguably puts us on a better footing to do the appropriations process properly,” Mr. Massie said on Twitter on Monday.

If the hard-right Republicans ganged up on the legislation, G.O.P. members backing the bill could also look to Democrats on the panel for support for the measure. But the minority party historically opposes the majority on procedural issues. If Mr. McCarthy were forced to rely on Democrats for a victory on the rule, he would look weak and could be vulnerable to an effort to oust him. Democrats would also likely seek some trade-off in exchange for their support.

Mr. Roy has also asserted that Mr. McCarthy promised during negotiations to win the speakership that bills would move to the floor only with the support of all Republicans on the Rules Committee.

“A reminder that during Speaker negotiations to build the coalition, that it was explicit both that nothing would pass Rules Committee without AT LEAST 7 GOP votes — AND that the Committee would not allow reporting out rules without unanimous Republican votes,” he wrote on Twitter.

That arrangement was not part of the rules package endorsed by Republicans and passed by the House, but Mr. McCarthy agreed to several informal deals that have never been disclosed. The speaker’s office did not respond to a request for a reaction to Mr. Roy, and Mr. McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol on Monday that he was unconcerned about discussions about the prospects for the legislation at the Rules Committee.

The panel is just one of the hurdles the legislation will have to clear in what is likely to be a nearly weeklong push to passage before next Monday.

If it emerges from the Rules Committee, the bill will need a combination of Republican and Democratic votes to pass the House. It would then head to the Senate, where conservative Republicans are also unhappy with the framework and can at minimum slow its passage with procedural tactics.

“Conservatives have been sold out once again!” Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who has been known to throw up procedural obstacles to legislation in the past, declared on Twitter.

As senators sifted through the legislation, one Senate Republican aide said there was growing unease about the level of Pentagon spending that would be allowed under the legislation but that the unrest probably would not be enough to derail the bill in the Senate with the default looming.

Mr. Biden sought to relieve those concerns about military spending on Monday, telling reporters at the White House that “obviously if there’s any existential need for additional funding, I have no doubt we’ll be able to get it.”

He remained confident the legislation would be approved before a default.

“There is no reason it shouldn’t get done by the 5th,” he said. “I’m confident that we’ll get a vote in both houses and we’ll see.”

But the outcry from the House conservatives was looming as a threat to the package if it stirred other factions among House Republicans to join in.

“Absolutely and completely unacceptable,” said Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Freedom Caucus, in describing the legislation. “Trillions and trillions of dollars in debt for crumbs. For a pittance.”

Annie Karni contributed reporting.

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