Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on Senate colleagues, including conservative members of his conference, not to drag out consideration of the debt limit agreement, which could be delayed beyond June 5 deadline for senators to use each. procedural tool that can be used to slow it down.
McConnell applauded Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for winning significant concessions from President Biden, including a cut in non-defense discretionary spending, restoring funding for the Internal Revenue Service, new work requirements for federal aid programs and reform authorization for large energy projects.
“The Senate must act quickly and pass this agreement without unnecessary delay,” McConnell said in a statement Sunday night that appeared to be aimed at Senate conservatives who are considering slowing down the bill with procedural delays.
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Thursday threatened to “use every procedural method at my disposal to prevent an agreement on the debt ceiling without significant spending and budget reforms.”
Many conservatives including Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) criticized the deal for extending the debt limit past the 2024 election while not doing enough to cut spending. They estimate that this will add approximately $4 trillion to the debt.
Roy on Sunday panned the deal as a “turd sandwich” and threatened to gather enough Republican votes to prevent it from passing the House.
Lee on Sunday night retweeted a claim that the deal would cut only 2.4 percent from the $80 billion in new funding the IRS received from a Democratic-controlled Congress last year and most with that cut coming a decade from now.
“Dems love this deal,” he tweeted.
McConnell, however, on Sunday hailed the agreement as “a necessary step toward” fiscal reform.
“The United States of America will not pay its debt. Today’s agreement makes urgent progress towards preserving the full faith and credit of our country and is a necessary step to improve its financial house,” he said.
McConnell framed the deal as a significant Republican victory, despite complaints from some GOP lawmakers in both chambers.
“I am especially grateful to Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans for their work to ensure that raising the debt limit comes with serious measures to curb Washington Democrats’ addiction to reckless spending,” he said, arguing that it would set “meaningful limits on the administration’s spending agenda.”
He also advocated for energy-authorizing reforms and reformed work requirements for federal food assistance and welfare programs.
Lee was among several conservatives who expressed disappointment with the emerging deal when new details leaked last week.
“I fear that things are moving in that direction. If they do, that proposal will not face smooth sailing in the Senate,” Lee tweeted on Thursday morning.
Lee or any senator who opposes the deal could delay final passage in the Senate by six or seven days.
McCarthy wants the House to pass the bill on Wednesday which means Lee could drag out the Senate debate until the June 5 deadline set by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
The Utah senator, however, is coming under heavy pressure from colleagues not to risk a technical default by throwing procedural hurdles into a bill that seems to have strong bipartisan support.
Experts warn that if the federal government defaults on its debt, it could cause interest rates to rise and create chaos throughout the economy.
Biden on Sunday said he expects the deal to pass in the House.
Asked if McCarthy had enough votes to approve the legislation, Biden told reporters: “I don’t know if he has the votes. I expect he does, or I don’t think he can make the deal.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.