WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — President Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy have announced they’ve reached a deal on raising the debt ceiling, and policymakers on Capitol Hill are expressing both victory and reservation about the legislation.
“When the American people win and we avoid default, and retirement accounts are not in flux, and the global economy is not crashing, I’m going to call that a win every day,” Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said at a press conference Tuesday.
The bill — which spans 99 pages — raises the debt limit for two years and tightens work requirements for some on federal public assistance programs while expanding exemptions for others. The deal also rescinds COVID-19 funding that went unused, among other provisions.
“I say this is an historic conservative accomplishment,” Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., told “The Hill on NewsNation” Monday.
He cited $2.1 trillion in cuts over 10 years, a $29 billion claw back in COVID-19 funds, energy permitting reform and new work requirements for those on federal assistance.
“This is a great deal,” Johnson added.
For Republicans who believe the deal doesn’t go far enough with cuts, Johnson said, “you don’t get everything you want” in negotiations.
“Given the political realities of this situation, where Republicans barely control one half of one-third of government, I think this is a remarkable accomplishment,” Johnson said. “We are finally moving in the right direction.”
The agreement phases in an increase for the age until which many recipients of food stamps must seek work to be eligible for the benefits, from 49 to 54.
On the other side of the aisle, Democrats were able to negotiate expanded exemptions. Veterans, homeless people and young adults aging out of foster care would be exempt from the new requirements.
It’s unclear how many people would no longer qualify for food stamps under the new rules but Young told reporters Tuesday it could be equal to the number who get added under the expanded exemptions.
In other words, there could be almost no change in the number of people who qualify, she said.
The agreement does not include any changes to work requirements for Medicaid recipients, which Republicans had proposed but the White House had pushed back on.
Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., remained noncommittal Monday on voting for the deal, citing uncertainty over the expansiveness of the new work requirements.
“I’ve said to the White House that I want to know the number of my constituents who are going to be affected before I commit publicly to a vote for or against the debt limit deal,” Torres said on “The Hill.” “Once I have the information I need I can make an informed decision.”
Ritchie is a member of the Progressive Caucus, which dubbed Republican demands as a “ransom note” that stood to wreck the economy if a default occurred. Ritchie commended the White House for being able to secure some concessions.
“The choice here is not between good versus bad. The choice is between bad versus worse. The deal is bad, but the alternative, a default in America, would be much worse,” Torres said. “It seems to me the president was extraordinarily effective at watering down the ransom note from the Republicans.”
The legislation must now get through Congress before a June 5 deadline, the date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the government will run out of funds to pay its bills.
Both the White House and GOP leadership are now working to sell the deal to their respective parties. But it was already facing criticism in the Senate.
“I will use all powers available to me in the Senate to have amendment votes to undo this catastrophe for defense,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said, referencing defense spending that would be consistent with what Biden requested in his 2024 budget proposal, which was nearly $900 billion. “I support raising the debt limit for 90 days to give us a chance to correct this disaster for defense.”
With only a slim majority in the House, Republicans will need to win over Democratic votes if there are defectors in the party, which there already seem to be.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said on Twitter he won’t support the legislation, saying, “It’s not a good deal.”
The Democrat Coalition, a 98-member bloc of House centrists, signaled its support for the bill Sunday morning.
“Despite a divided government, President Biden has achieved a bipartisan agreement that will save our country from default until 2025 and protect our nation from economic collapse, while also preventing cuts to key programs that millions of Americans rely upon,” the group of lawmakers said in a statement.
The Hill contributed to this report.