COMPASS: Debt Deal Advanced in the House

June 1st, 2023

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

The House is back in session this week and the Senate will be in session for the next 4 weeks.

As House members departed Washington D.C. on May 25th for the Memorial Day recess, they knew that there was potential for them to return over the weekend or during the scheduled week of recess. As anticipated, House members returned to vote on H.R. 3746, Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which eventually passed 314-117.

To rewind on how this unfolded, on April 26th, 2023, the House passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act by a narrow margin of 217-215. You can read more about that legislation in the May 9th version of the Compass here.

On May 18th, House Freedom Caucus issued a statement on their Facebook page regarding passing the “Limit. Save and Grow Act”, in part reading, “There should be no further negotiations until the Senate passes the legislation.”

It then became clear in the early morning of May 25th that White House officials and lawmakers were nearing an agreement different than what they had passed at the end of April. As the details were emerging, Center for Renewing American President, Russ Vought, went on Washington Journal to say, “If you’re moving away from coalition style government and you think Hakeem Jeffries is your coalition partner…then I think you should expect trench warfare.”

On May 27, the House Freedom Caucus came out strongly against the agreement that had formally materialized over the weekend. Congressman Bob Good of Virginia said, “I am hearing the “deal” is for a $4 trillion increase in the debt limit. IF that is true, I don’t need to hear anything else. No one claiming to be a conservative could justify a YES vote.” But this was not just House members who had become frustrated by the deal. Senator Mike Lee said “I will use every procedural tool at my disposal to impede a debt-ceiling deal that doesn’t contain substantial spending and budgetary reforms.

Then, on May 30, at a press conference held by the House Freedom Caucus, Congressman Ralph Norman echoed Congressman Roy’s sentiment on this new agreement, directly calling out Janet Yellen for bluffing on the U.S. government defaulting, “I don’t buy Janet Yellen’s ‘the sky’s falling.’ She’s moved the date three times–June 1st–Now it’s June 5th — And here’s June 8th. What gives? Tax revenues will be coming in. We’re not going to default….” Representative Byron Donalds and Lauren Boebert sounded off on their frustration as well. Congresswoman Boebert tweeted about the IRS only getting 1,500 less IRS agents. Congressman Donalds retweeted his House Triangle press conference response on Tuesday, exclaiming, “Washington is doing it again.”

The Senate will look to move onto the bill as quickly as possible, but much of that timing will depend on conservatives in the Senate. Look for many of the conservatives to force amendment votes on tough issues related to the bill.

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