WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden said he “feels good” about the debt ceiling and budget deal negotiated with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the White House and congressional leaders work to ensure its passage this week in time to lift the nation’s borrowing limit and prevent a disastrous United States (US) default.
Biden spent part of the Memorial Day holiday working the phones, calling lawmakers in both parties, as the president does his part to deliver the votes. A number of hard right conservatives are criticising the deal as falling short of the deep spending cuts they wanted, while liberals decry policy changes such as new work requirements for older Americans in the food aid programme.
A key test came yesterday afternoon when the House Rules Committee was scheduled to consider the package and vote on sending it to the full House for a vote expected today.
“I feel very good about it,” Biden told reporters on Monday as he left Washington for his home in Delaware. “I’ve spoken to a number of the members,” he said, among them Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a past partner in big bipartisan deals who largely sat this one out.
“I spoke to a whole bunch of people, and it feels good,” Biden said.
To those progressive Democrats raising concerns about the package, the president had a simple message: “Talk to me.”
As lawmakers size up the 99-page bill, few are expected to be fully satisfied with the final product. But Biden, a Democrat, and McCarthy, a Republican, are counting on pulling majority support from the political centre, a rarity in divided Washington, to join in voting to prevent a catastrophic federal default.
Wall Street opened early yesterday morning delivering its own assessment, as the US financial markets that had been closed when the deal was struck over the weekend show their reaction to the outcome.
McCarthy acknowledged the hard-fought compromise with Biden will not be “100 per cent of what everybody wants” as he leads a slim House majority powered by hard-right conservatives.
Facing potential blowback from his conservative ranks, the Republican speaker will have to rely on upwards of half the House Democrats and half the House Republicans to push the debt ceiling package to passage.