WASHINGTON - Veering away from a default crisis, the House approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package late Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans against fierce conservative blowback and progressive dissent.
The hard-fought deal pleased few, but lawmakers assessed it was better than the alternative — a devastating economic upheaval if Congress failed to act. Tensions ran high throughout the day as hard-right Republicans refused the deal, while Democrats said "extremist" GOP views were risking a debt default as soon as next week.
With the House vote of 314-117, the bill now heads to the Senate with passage expected by week’s end.
McCarthy insisted his party was working to "give America hope" as he launched into a late evening speech extolling the bill’s budget cuts, which he said were needed to curb Washington’s "runaway spending."
But amid discontent from Republicans who said the spending restrictions did not go far enough, McCarthy said it is only a "first step."
Earlier, Biden expressed optimism that the agreement he negotiated with McCarthy to lift the nation’s borrowing limit would pass the chamber and avoid an economically disastrous default on America’s debts.
The president departed Washington for Colorado, where he is scheduled to deliver the commencement address Thursday at the U.S. Air Force Academy