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Tipsheet

How the House GOP Just Changed the Debt Ceiling Equation

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2811 — the "Limit, Save, Grow Act" — on Wednesday, the House GOP's plan to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default while capping federal discretionary spending at FY2022 levels that Democrats previously heralded. 

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The final vote came down 217-215, a narrow but good enough margin to see Speaker McCarthy secure victory in what was seen as his biggest test since securing the Speaker's gavel in January, as well as a win for his leadership team including Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY). 

The only Republicans voting "no" on the legislation were Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Ken Buck (R-CO), Tim Burchett (R-TN), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ). 

The House GOP leadership, along with Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) celebrated their victory, saying "House Republicans just delivered a plan that will address the country’s debt crisis" by bringing the GOP conference together "to pass the only plan in Washington that will tackle the debt ceiling, stop excessive federal spending and inflation, and put our country back on track for sustained economic growth."

"Today’s vote also sends a clear message to President Biden – continuing to ignore the problem is not an option," the House GOP leaders emphasized. "The President must come to the table to negotiate."

"House Republicans are doing our jobs," Stefanik told Townhall after the successful vote, one that "Chuck Schumer failed to do, that Joe Biden failed to do" while the president "continues to demonstrate his weakness."

Scalise explained to Townhall that "Biden has been hiding for a long time," and that's part of the "reason why you're seeing his numbers crater" and why there is "a growing drumbeat of Democrat members of the House and Senate calling on President Biden to negotiate." Biden, Scalise emphasized, is quickly becoming "alone" in his do-nothing position. "House Republicans just proved that we're willing to do our part."

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"If you don't like this plan, what's your answer?" Emmer asked rhetorically of Democrats' rejection of Republican invitations to come to the negotiating table. Democrats, he reminded, have engaged in "political rhetoric for the past three months with no solution." 

Certainly, the passage of the Limit, Save, Grow Act now puts President Biden and the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on their collective heels when it comes to the debt ceiling fight. The president has refused to talk or negotiate with McCarthy on a plan to avoid what would be the United States' first default on its debts for more than two months, and congressional Democrats haven't yet put together an offer to counter McCarthy's plan. 

That could be, in part, due to Democrats' effusive praise for the spending levels established for FY2022 that the Democrat-controlled House and Senate passed and President Biden signed into law — spending levels that the White House and Democrats now claim would be a disaster for America. Their stance has been shown to be hyperbolic and hypocritical, so their options to push back on what McCarthy's plan offers are limited.

In any case, the debt ceiling ball is now entirely in the Democrats' court — both at the White House and in the U.S. Senate. If Democrats don't propose a plan and offer to negotiate with McCarthy to find common ground, then Biden and Schumer will own the first default in United States history. 

UPDATE: Suggesting that Democrats' hypocritical hyperbole about House Republicans' now-successful debt ceiling plan won't end soon, the White House released a statement from Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday evening that repeated debunked claims made over the past several months in lieu of actual negotiations from the White House.

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Here's what Jean-Pierre had to say:

House Republicans have passed a bill that cuts veterans’ health care, education, Meals on Wheels, and public safety, takes away health care from millions of Americans, and sends manufacturing jobs overseas while they fight to extend the Trump tax cuts for the wealthiest and profitable corporations. President Biden will never force middle class and working families to bear the burden of tax cuts for the wealthiest, as this bill does.  The President has made clear this bill has no chance of becoming law.

In our history, we have never defaulted on our debt or failed to pay our bills.  Congressional Republicans must act immediately and without conditions to avoid default and ensure that the full faith and credit of the United States is not put at risk.  That is their job. Economists have warned that default could spark a dangerous financial crisis, lead to a recession costing millions of Americans their jobs, endanger hard-working Americans’ retirement savings, and increase long-term federal borrowing costs, adding to deficits and debt.  We are not a deadbeat nation. As President Reagan said: “The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations.  It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility — two things that set us apart in much of the world.” We pay our bills. Congressional Republicans must do that again now and act to avoid default.

In addition to the House GOP's plan capping spending where it was just four months ago at levels Democrats heralded when they passed them and Biden signed the legislation into law, there's a big problem with the White House's rhetoric: Congressional Republicans already did their job with a piece of legislation that would allow the United States to pay its bills and avoid default as the White House has requested. 

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Facts be damned, apparently, because it looks like Biden's do-nothing strategy that's frustrated even members of his own party on Capitol Hill will continue while he dispatches Jean-Pierre to trot out disproven and hypocritical claims that suggest Biden has no intention of engaging in good-faith negotiations. 

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