Members of Congress will be busy reading the details of the debt ceiling bill finally hammered out by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the weekend.
But its passage is anything but a certainty, despite the potential for an economic meltdown if an agreement is not passed by June 5. A vote is tentatively planned for Wednesday, giving members about three days to review the text of the bill, a timeline mandated by House Republicans.
President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy now have to sell the deal they reached on raising the nation's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling to the various flanks and their respective caucuses.
What exactly is in the two-year agreement?
The agreement would raise the debt ceiling until January of 2025, taking it off the table as a campaign issue in the upcoming presidential election. Here's what it calls for:
• Capping non-defense spending
• Protecting veterans' medical care
• Expanding work requirements for SNAP benefits
• Rescinding unspent COVID funds
• Cutting IRS funding
• Restarting student loan payments
So what's next?
Expanding work requirements for the SNAP food assistance program is going to be a tough pill for progressives to swallow. They're concerned about it impacting lunch programs for underprivileged kids. Meanwhile, Republicans, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, are concerned about cutting government military spending. So, there's criticism on both sides of the aisle.
The House of Representatives will need to garner 218 votes in order to send the agreement to the Senate, where it's expected — but not guaranteed — to have an easier path before landing on President Biden's desk.
"It takes the threat of catastrophic default off the table, it protects our hard-earned and historic economic recovery, and the agreement also represents a compromise, which means no one got everything they want, but that's the responsibility of governing," President Biden said.
"I think people will look back and say, 'Well I didn't get exactly what I wanted.' But there's something in here that shouldn't be about you. It should be about America. America believes that we've spent too much, so this spends less," McCarthy said.
Back in 2011, the S&P downgraded the U.S. credit score from AAA to AA+ as a result of brinkmanship. Now, you've got Fitch rating coming out and saying last week that they could potentially downgrade the U.S. credit rating from AAA rating to an AA+, as well. Moody's is still showing it as a AAA rating. As lawmakers continue to get up to the June 5 default date, a downgrading score could put new pressure on them to push it over the finish line.
Finally, Congressman Matt Gaetz — an ultra-conservative Republican — has said that he actually expects this to pass. So, when you have someone like Matt Gaetz saying that this does not pose a threat to Speaker McCarthy's leadership, it's a clear sign that they're close to getting the deal to President Biden's desk. But they're not quite there yet.
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