1:13 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023
Here’s what Democrats are saying about the debt ceiling deal ahead of a House vote on the bill
Sen. Jon Tester, a vulnerable Democrat of Montana who is up for reelection, told CNN he is still reviewing the debt ceiling agreement.
“We’re still looking at it. Look, this is a negotiated agreement. As I’m looking at the bill, obviously, there’s things I would not have done this way,” Tester said, “we’re going to continue to analyze it and make sure it works. In the end defaulting would not be an acceptable option.”
Tester joins a number of Democrats who have told CNN they are undecided on whether to support the agreement. The Montana Democrat says he is concerned about military funding, and ensuring that “we are taking care of people domestically.” Tester also told CNN he has not talked to the White House about his concerns.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who is up for reelection in 2024, told CNN Wednesday that he will vote for the debt ceiling agreement.
“The goal is we could not allow, like Republicans were trying to force, we could not allow that there’ll be a default we protected Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security and veterans benefits. That was our goal. We succeeded in that I plan to vote yes,” Brown said.
Yesterday, he told CNN’s Manu Raju that he did not know how he was going to vote. Asked what changed since yesterday, Brown said he did not change his mind, he simply had more time to read the bill.
Rep. Debbie Dingell told CNN she’s “gonna end up voting” for the agreement to raise the debt limit, saying “the process stinks.”
“I don’t like being held hostage,” she said. “I’m going to support the president.”
“I think they cooked up the best deal they could, but I still don’t like what’s in the overall bill.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal said that she will vote against the debt ceiling compromise. “I will be a no,” she said as she walked into a caucus meeting with White House officials who are briefing Democrats this morning.
Jayapal, who leads the House progressive caucus, was careful not speak for other members of her caucus, but she told reporters “I think that there will be plenty of votes to pass this from Republicans.” Asked if progressive support would be needed at this time, Jayapal said, “I don’t think so.”
Rep. Dan Kildee, Democrat from Michigan, said the mood in the House Democratic caucus is that Democrats are still grappling with the bill to raise the debt ceiling and feeling the weight of being in the minority in a divided government.
Kildee said the House Democrats applaud the negotiators and are so proud of Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, a former House staff director, but he said members are still frustrated they had to negotiate over the debt ceiling.
“I think people are still processing this. We got a few hours left before we have to cast our votes,” Kildee said.
While he sounded likely to vote for the package, he said he had not made a final decision.
“So I feel pretty positive about where we are. I’ll make a final decision during the day but at the end of the day, it’s a choice between default and accepting the fact that they went over social security. They failed. They went after Medicare. They failed. They went after Medicaid. They failed. They went after the inflation Reduction Act, they failed. They went after the bipartisan infrastructure bill, they failed,” he said.
Rep. Cori Bush told CNN that “this is a bad deal” as lawmakers left a briefing with White House officials. Bush added that she is “leaning no,” but she has not made a final decision.
“I think that they did what they could with what they had. I think they did extraordinary with what they have to work with,” she noted. “But anything that’s going to hurt people who are the ones we should be helping the most — our model in our office is to do the absolute most for every single person in our district, starting with those who have the greatest need, and so I can’t swap out my folks who have the greatest need, one for the other, because they are not dispensable.”
Rep. Steve Cohen said he would vote for the deal, even if he still has concerns: “There’s parts of it I don’t like, but I’m gonna vote for it.”
Rep. Jared Huffman, a progressive Democrat from California, told CNN he is a no on the deal and said he is “discouraged” that the White House cut a compromise that he believes will make climate change worse.
“I don’t like this deal. I think there were better ways to avoid default,” Huffman told CNN.
Huffman said he confronted White House officials with his concerns during today’s briefing, and he said he wasn’t satisfied with their response.
“Instead of patting us on the head and saying ‘it could have been worse,’ they could have said this is the end of the fossil fuel giveaways,” he said. “I’m pretty discouraged and frustrated that it has come to this.”