As mortgage-ceiling vote nears, Biden boosts hopes of GOP support for Democrats, McCarthy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fighting hard to the end, a package of massive debt ceiling and budget cuts President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy headed for a key House vote Wednesday as they assembled a coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans to meet a fierce conservative backlash and progressive dissent.

Biden sent top White House officials to the Capitol to drum up support ahead of the vote. McCarthy worked to sell skeptical fellow Republicans and fend off challenges to his leadership in his haste to avoid a catastrophic default in America..

“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, but historically, I want to be here today with this bill,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said when he arrived at the Capitol.

Much to the deep dismay of right-wing Republicans, the compromise falls short of the spending cuts they have demandedMcCarthy insisted he had the votes he needed.

He characterized the package as “a small step” toward bringing the U.S. debt burden under control and announced that he would next work on creating a bipartisan committee to more deeply address the budget imbalances.

“Today, America is going to win,” he said

Swift approval by the House and Senate later in the week would ensure government checks continue to go to Social Security recipients, veterans and others and prevent a financial upheaval at home and abroad. The Treasury has said that the US will experience a cash shortage next Monday To pay off its debts, it risks an economically risky default.

The package completely satisfied some lawmakersBut Biden and McCarthy relied on the support of the political center, rarely testing the leadership of a Democratic president and Republican speaker in a divided Washington..

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A boost came Wednesday morning, when a bipartisan congressional resolution caucus announced its approval, which could bring dozens of votes.

In all, a 99-page bill Limits spending for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling through January 2025 and changes policies, including new work requirements for older Americans receiving food assistance and the green light for an Appalachian natural gas tax that many Democrats oppose.

For more than two hours late Tuesday, as aides wheeled pizza around the Capitol, McCarthy walked Republicans through the details, fielded questions and encouraged them not to miss the bill’s budget savings.

The speaker sometimes faced fierce crowds. Leaders of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus spent the day negotiating a compromise that fell far short of the necessary spending cuts.And they promised to try to stop the passage.

“This deal is failing, absolutely failing,” Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., chairman of the Freedom Caucus, is surrounded by others outside the Capitol. “We will do everything we can to prevent that.”

The largest conservative arm, the Republican Study Group, declined to take a position. Even rank-and-file centrist conservatives weren’t sure, leaving McCarthy to hunt for votes.

R. Nancy Mays, RS.C., said she was still up late at night for “healthy discussion.”

Ominously, conservatives warned they might try to oust McCarthy through compromise.

“There’s going to be a reckoning,” said Rep. Chip Roy of Texas.

Biden spoke directly with lawmakers, making more than 100 calls, according to the White House.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the spending controls in the package would reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over a decade, a key goal of Republicans trying to curb the debt burden.

McCarthy told lawmakers the number would be higher if the two-year spending cap was extended, which is not guaranteed.

In a surprise move that could erode Republican support, the CBO said their push to impose work requirements on older Americans receiving food stamps. Over time that would raise costs by $2.1 billion. That’s because the final deal exempts veterans and the homeless, expanding food stamp rolls by 78,000 people a month, according to the CBO.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said it would be up to McCarthy to deliver the votes, even as Democrats vowed to block default. In the 435-member House, 218 votes are needed to pass

“My expectation is that House Republicans will keep their promise and deliver at least 150 votes, which is tied to the deal they negotiated,” Jeffries said, adding that it was a high hurdle for McCarthy.

The Liberal Democrats rejected the new work requirements For older Americans, those age 50-54 on the Food Assistance Program. Some Democratic lawmakers have attempted to eliminate the surprise provision for the Mountain Valley Pipeline natural gas project. Energy Development Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va. is important for, but many argue that it will not help in combating climate change.

The top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee is Arizona’s representative. Raúl Grijalva said it was “disturbing and deeply disappointing,” including the pipeline arrangement.

On Wall Street, stock prices fell.

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A procedural vote is expected on Wednesday afternoon, with final action expected in the evening. It will then send the bill to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican Leader McConnell are expected to pass it by the end of the week.

“There is no room for error,” Schumer warned.

Senators, often sidelined during most of the negotiations between the president and the Speaker of the House, began to insert themselves more forcefully into the debate.

Some senators from both the left and the right are pushing for amendments to replace the package. But with so little time left before Monday’s deadline, no changes to the package are likely.

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Associated Press writers Mary Claire Jalonik and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

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