House Passes Debt Ceiling Increase After Republicans Keep Key Inflation Reduction Act Provision

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that would raise the debt ceiling through the end of March 2024 or by $1.5 trillion.

The Limit, Save, Grow Act passed almost entirely along party lines, with 217 Republicans in favor. All 211 voting Democrats and four Republicans voted against the legislation, which is unlikely to pass the Senate. The bill serves as an opening salvo in negotiations between Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, who is refusing to sign any debt ceiling legislation that includes any other provisions.

The GOP’s four-seat House margin forced party leadership into late-night negotiations with more than a half dozen holdouts, most of whom represent Midwestern states. Those members included the entire Iowa delegation, who objected to a provision eliminating ethanol and other subsidies included in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. Wisconsin Rep. Derrick Van Orden was able to insert an amendment keeping some of the subsidies in place.

“I will always stand with the farmers who feed America. I’m glad that elements of my amendment were included in the revised Limit, Save, Grow Act that protect our corn growers and biofuels industry. That is a win for Wisconsin and America,” Van Orden said in a statement. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: RSC Chairman Kevin Hern Calls For ‘Strong Debt Limit Bill’ By End Of April)

Other Republicans demanded more stringent work requirements for welfare recipients in exchange for their support. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, New York Rep. George Santos and Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett called on GOP leadership to increase the number of work hours for welfare recipients from 20 to 30 per week. House Freedom Caucus members Chip Roy of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania both ultimately supported the bill after pushing for the work hours increase.

Santos, Roy, and Perry ultimately voted in favor of the bill. Gaetz, Burchett, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, and Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs were the four Republicans who voted against.

The Limit, Save, Grow Act would save an estimated $4.8 trillion over 10 years, Congressional Budget Office director Philip Swagel wrote Tuesday in a letter to House Budget Committee chairman Jodey Arrington of Texas. The legislation would cut discretionary spending by $3.2 trillion, according to Swagel, and mandatory spending by $700 billion. It would also raise federal revenue by $400 billion, he wrote. Swagel offered the estimates before final amendments were introduced.

The legislation is dead-on-arrival in the Senate, but forces Biden to negotiate with McCarthy. The two discussed the debt ceiling at the White House on Feb. 1 but have not met to review the legislation since. The White House blasted the Limit, Save, Grow Act, with communications director Ben LaBolt calling the cuts “draconian.”

“House Republicans are selling out hard-working Americans in order to defend their top priority: restoring the Trump tax cuts for the wealthiest and corporations at a cost of over $3 trillion,” LaBolt said in a statement.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen began taking “extraordinary measures” to avoid a default Jan. 19. The U.S. government will likely go fully over the financial cliff sometime in the summer of 2023.