House GOP leaders are “confident” that Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s bill to raise the debt ceiling and slash spending will pass the narrowly divided chamber, despite hesitance among some GOP members and a barrage of attacks from Democrats against the legislation.
“We feel like we’re at a good place,” a House GOP leadership aide told Fox News Digital on Friday.
“House Republicans are focused on getting to 218 [votes for passage], we’re continuing to lead, while Joe Biden sits on his hands and waits to see what we do. And when we pass the bill next week, he’s gonna have no choice but to come to the table after months of ignoring McCarthy,” the aide said.
Republican leaders are hoping to put President Biden and Senate Democrats on the hot seat with the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which aims to raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion or until the end of March 2024, while also capping discretionary government spending at fiscal 2022 levels. The White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have repeatedly refused to pair spending negotiations with the debt limit, putting them at a stalemate with a House GOP whose conservative wing has vowed to kill any bill that allows more borrowing without any spending cuts.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., introduced a bill this week to raise the debt limit and cap spending. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes in order to pass the bill, assuming no Democrats vote for it. Its 320-page text was released on Wednesday; some members have said they are on the fence until they get to read it over the weekend, while others like Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., had specific points of hesitation.
A source familiar with Mace’s thinking told Fox News Digital that she’s still leaning ‘no.’ “She’s concerned the plan doesn’t cut spending (freezes it, doesn’t necessarily cut it) and has too many poison pills,” the source said. “She’s disappointed we didn’t have a better plan — a lot of Republicans ran on reining in spending and balancing the budget, and here we are kicking it down the road again.”
Another GOP member’s office indicated they were leaning against any debt limit increase at all, but would review the bill’s text.
But the House GOP leadership aides who spoke with Fox News Digital on Friday said they were “absolutely” confident that their legislation will pass largely as-is, barring some minor tweaks.
“You may hear people who say they want this policy in, or they wish this policy was structured differently — right now, the bill is the bill,” one of the leadership aides said. “And I don’t think those comments reflect their opposition to the legislation.”
President Biden has refused to pair negotiations on spending with raising the debt limit, insisting on a “clean” raise to the fiscal cap. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
They added that “you always want to look out for technical corrections” and “you may even have to take a number and combine here or there,” but otherwise, the bill will largely move forward as presented.
In addition to capping spending at fiscal 2022 levels, the legislation aims to limit increases in that spending to just 1% per year for a decade. It also would repeal Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, include House Republicans’ energy bill and add work requirements to federal benefits, among other items.
The GOP leadership aides brushed off concerns about the bill not going through a traditional committee markup before hitting the House floor, and argued that members of the GOP conference understand the need to move expediently to avoid a potential default — a concern if a deal isn’t made by the time the U.S. runs out of cash to pay its debts.
A source familiar with Rep. Nancy Mace’s thinking said the pragmatic Republican lawmaker is leaning ‘no’ on the bill.
“This is a large bill that crosses, I think, at least seven different committees in terms of jurisdiction,” one of the leadership aides said. “The Rules Committee will certainly be the one to determine how that sort of looks and what kind of process we have. I think every member of our conference that we’ve spoken to, from the most conservative to the most moderate, understands how time-sensitive and important this is, and is ready to move forward with the process.”
Another GOP leadership aide added, “There will always be members that, you know, have gripes, but it is not my impression that there is any sort of undercurrent of frustration about the process.”
The aides pointed to previous reports that House Majority Whip Tom Emmer held a number of “listening sessions” with members to keep as many as possible involved in the process.
“It wasn’t going to be one of those things from the beginning where leadership negotiates a backroom deal and other members don’t get a say,” a third GOP leadership aide said. “Everything in this bill is a product of the listening sessions and calls with members, so with that said, the text represents the common ground that we found among our members.”