Hardline Republican lawmakers vowed to “do everything” in their power to stop a bipartisan deal to raise the US debt ceiling from being signed into law, as Kevin McCarthy rushed to whip votes in support of the agreement and avert a default.
Scott Perry, a rightwing congressman from Pennsylvania who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, on Tuesday lashed out at McCarthy, the Republican Speaker of the House, saying he had “totally fail[ed] to deliver” on his mandate to “hold the line” in negotiations with the White House.
The White House and McCarthy struck a deal at the weekend that would suspend the debt ceiling until after the next presidential election in 2024. It caps discretionary spending for two years, tightens requirements for some social programmes, cuts funding for the Internal Revenue Service and speeds up permitting for big energy and infrastructure projects.
However, Perry and other hardliners championed McCarthy’s opening gambit in the negotiations — the Limit, Save, Grow Act — that would have raised the debt ceiling until next year with steep spending cuts and a rollback of some of President Joe Biden’s biggest policies such as student loan debt forgiveness.
Standing in front of 10 fellow Republicans who joined in his attacks on the deal, Perry said: “These members and others will be absolutely opposed to the deal and we will do everything in our power to stop it, and end it now.”
Perry stopped short of calling for McCarthy to lose his job over the deal but his comments pile pressure on the Speaker as he looks ahead to a probable vote that is expected to take place in the lower chamber of Congress on Wednesday.
The compromise needs to pass both the House and the Senate if it is to become law before next week. Janet Yellen, Treasury secretary, has warned the federal government will run out of money on June 5 if the debt ceiling is not raised in time.
Republicans control the House by a razor-thin margin. With more than a dozen of the party’s members saying in public they will vote against the deal, McCarthy must rely on a critical mass of support from House Democrats to get the bill over the line.
Many of McCarthy’s former critics have applauded the lawmaker — who was elected Speaker in January despite fierce opposition from members of his own party — for his handling of the debt ceiling issue.
But members of the Freedom Caucus have threatened to invoke a “motion to vacate”, or vote of no confidence, in McCarthy if he does not answer their calls to abandon the deal.
Chip Roy, the Republican congressman from Texas, told talk radio host Glenn Beck on Tuesday that if the debt ceiling becomes law, “we’re going to have to then regroup and figure out the whole leadership arrangement again”.