- By Levi Rickert
The House on Wednesday evening passed bipartisan debt ceiling legislation, known as the Fiscal Responsibility Act, (H.R. 3746 (118)). The legislation now heads to the Senate with less than six days until a June 5 default deadline.
The legislation, in addition to raising the debt ceiling until January 2025, limits spending levels for the next two years for discretionary spending. rescind some pandemic aid and tax enforcement funding, and increase work requirements for certain social safety-net programs, among a few other key provisions.
"This agreement is good news for the American people and the American economy. It protects key priorities and accomplishments from the past two years, including historic investments that are creating good jobs across the country. And, it honors my commitment to safeguard Americans’ health care and protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It protects critical programs that millions of hardworking families, students, and veterans count on," President Joe Biden said in a statement after the vote.
The final vote on Wednesday evening was 314-to-117. In the end, 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats voted to support the measure, while 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats opposed it.
Three of the four Native Americans serving in Congress voted yes on the legislation.
Those voting yes were Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4th District), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS-3rd District), and Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola (D-AK-At-Large).
Cole, the longest serving Native American in Congress, chairs the powerful House Rules Committee.
"Today's bill is a product of compromise and reflects the realities of a divided government," Cole (Chickasaw) said as he began the Rules Committee meeting on Tuesday.
“Today I voted for a bipartisan agreement to prevent default and save our economy from potential catastrophe. This deal is not perfect, but compromise from both sides was necessary to reach a final agreement,” Davids (Ho-Chunk) said. “It accomplishes the core priorities I pushed for: we agreed to pay our bills, we avoided cuts to Social Security, Medicare and veterans’ benefits, and we agreed to move onto a bipartisan path to address our nation's budgetary challenges without holding our economy hostage.”
Peltola, the first Alaska Native ever elected to Congress, says she voted yes to protect the economy from default on the national debt.
“This deal isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than a default,” Peltola said. “I’ve been calling for talks to prevent an economic crisis and protect vital programs like Social Security from the beginning, and I’m glad that both parties were finally able to agree on a bill that avoids a disastrous default without devastating cuts to other services that Alaskans rely on. I’m also encouraged that many of the permitting reforms I advocated for are included in this final bill. However, while I’m relieved that we were able to avoid disaster this time, it's clear that we can’t keep governing this way. We need to be able to talk to each other and cooperate without the threat of economic collapse."
Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-OK-2nd District), who is serving in his first term in Congress, voted no.
“House Republicans passed a responsible bill—The Limit, Save, Grow Act—which would cut wasteful spending by $1 trillion in year one and $4.8 trillion over ten years. Instead, this Biden-McCarthy agreement at best includes a two-year freeze in spending in exchange for adding $4 trillion to our $31.5 trillion national debt,” Breecheen (Choctaw) said in a press statement.
The measure is expected to pass the Senate as early as Friday or Saturday. The bill will then be sent to President Biden to avert the government defaulting on its debt.
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