NATIONAL NEWS

Speaker McCarthy faces big test as debt bill heads for vote

Apr 24, 2023, 11:13 AM

FILE - Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy speaks during an event at the New York Stock Exchange in...

FILE - Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy speaks during an event at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, April 17, 2023. McCarthy is hurtling toward one of the most consequential weeks of the new House Republican majority as he labors to pass a partisan package that would raise the nation's debt limit by $1.5 trillion in exchange for steep cuts that some in his own party oppose. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Kevin McCarthy is hurtling toward one of the most consequential weeks of the new House Republican majority as he labors to pass a partisan package that would raise the nation’s debt limit by $1.5 trillion in exchange for steep cuts that some in his own party oppose.

McCarthy has almost no room for error with his slim five-seat majority hold on power in the House, but has embattled Republican speaker’s ability to bring his fellow Republicans in line.

But the political stakes are sky-high for McCarthy, who is trying to entice President Joe Biden to the negotiating table. The nation is teetering toward a debt default crisis, needing to lift the borrowing cap to keep fully paying the bills in a matter of weeks.

“We will hold a vote this week, and we will pass it,” McCarthy vowed in a Sunday interview on Fox News.

Even if McCarthy can muscle the package to pasage this week, it has almost no chance of becoming law. Biden and his top congressional allies, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, say they are unwilling to negotiate over the debt ceiling. The House Republican package is essentially dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Still, McCarthy is trying to force Democrats to bargain, hoping that muscling his own party’s proposal to passage will be an opening bid that Biden will be forced to respond to with his own offer. Biden has derided the Republicans’ “wacko” ideas, but even some Democrats, including Sen Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., say it’s time to negotiate.

But first, the Republican speaker faces the enormous task of passing the package, uniting what his team refers to as the “five families” — the often warring factions of conservatives and far-right Republicans that make up the House GOP majority.

The hard-right House Freedom Caucus has yet to bless McCarthy’s proposal — though key conservatives who have bucked the speaker, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., have spoken favorably of it, having gained much of what they wanted. Yet other conservatives are also unsure they can support the deal, particularly the loss of new tax credits for renewable energy production that would be rolled back.

The GOP whip team under Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., is heavily counting the votes. With the House not returning to work until late Tuesday evening, the floor action is not expected until Wednesday at the earliest.

The sweeping 320-page package is a wish list of conservative priorities. In exchange for lifting the nation’s debt limit by $1.5 trillion into March 2024, it would impose a range of Republican ideas.

Among them, rolling back federal spending to fiscal 2022 levels and imposing a 1% cap on future spending growth for the next decade. It would impose new work requirements for recipients of government aid and it would rescind Biden’s proposal to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt.

Pointedly the Republican package would undo many of Biden’s signature proposals for fighting climate in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, and instead put in place the Republicans’ own sweeping proposal to boost oil and gas drilling and ease permitting regulations.

Treasury has announced it is taking “extraordinary measures” to keep paying the nation’s bills, having already hit the nation’s $31 trillion debt ceiling. The debt ceiling will need to be lifted by summer to avoid any trouble ahead.

National News

FILE - Deborah Moody, an administrative clerk at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchora...

Associated Press

Alaska election officials to recalculate signatures for ranked vote repeal measure after court order

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state court judge on Friday disqualified numerous booklets used to gather signatures for an initiative that aims to repeal Alaska’s ranked choice voting system and gave elections officials a deadline to determine if the measure still had sufficient signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The decision by Superior Court […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

UN approves more transparent procedures for people and entities to get off its sanctions lists

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved more transparent procedures Friday for the hundreds of individuals, companies and other entities who are subject to U.N. sanctions and want to get off the blacklists. The resolution, co-sponsored by Malta and the United States, also authorizes the establishment of a new informal working […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee meeting, Dec. 13...

Associated Press

Longtime US Rep Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who had pancreatic cancer, has died

Longtime U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who helped lead federal efforts to protect women from domestic violence and recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, has died. She was 74. Lillie Conley, her chief of staff, confirmed Friday night that Jackson Lee, who had pancreatic cancer, had died. The Democrat had represented her Houston-based […]

5 hours ago

Stools line the bar at Elwood's Liquor and Tap on Thursday, July 18, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wis. This w...

Associated Press

Outside the RNC, small Milwaukee businesses and their regulars tried to salvage a sluggish week

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jay Nelson was standing outside the convenience store he manages in downtown Milwaukee when one of his regular customers walked by on her daily stroll around the neighborhood. “I’ve been telling people to come and buy even just a bottle of wine,” she said, stretching out her arms. “I hope it helps.” […]

5 hours ago

Descendants of Nelson Bell, brothers Milford Fonza, front left, and Elmer Fonza, front right, surro...

Associated Press

In a California gold rush town, some Black families are fighting for land taken from their ancestors

COLOMA, Calif. (AP) — In a tiny town where the California gold rush began, Black families are seeking restitution for land that was taken from their ancestors to make way for a state park now frequented by fourth graders learning about the state’s history. Their efforts in Coloma, a town of around 300 people that’s […]

5 hours ago

An image of President Joe Biden is projected on a screen during the final night of the 2024 Republi...

Associated Press

Biden’s ability to win back skeptical Democrats tested at a perilous moment for his campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite a week of campaign stops, interviews and a determined insistence he is the best candidate to confront Republican Donald Trump, President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive his reelection bid and win over skeptical Democrats have done little to soften the push for him to exit the 2024 race. Biden has weighty […]

5 hours ago

Speaker McCarthy faces big test as debt bill heads for vote