(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy dismissed threats from Republican hard-liners to oust him over the debt-limit deal he forged with President Joe Biden and expressed confidence Tuesday that lawmakers will pass legislation in time to avert a US default.
The bill, heading for a House vote on Wednesday evening, prompted GOP Representative Dan Bishop to call for a vote on removing McCarthy as speaker, claiming that the deal granted too many concessions to Democrats. Another conservative member, Chip Roy, promised a “reckoning” for McCarthy.
Asked Tuesday if he was worried he would lose his job as speaker, McCarthy responded “nope.” Supporting the deal is “an easy vote for Republicans,” he said.
Despite the GOP objections, the bill cleared a crucial hurdle on Tuesday night when the powerful House Rules Committee voted 7-6 to advance the bill.
The legislation would set the course for federal spending for the next two years and suspend the debt ceiling until Jan. 1, 2025 — postponing another fight over borrowing until after the presidential election. Biden and McCarthy have both said the measure would pass, and each spent much of the Memorial Day holiday lobbying members of their respective parties.
Read More: Debt Deal Clears Crucial Hurdle, Setting Up Wednesday House Vote
In exchange for Republican votes for the suspension, Democrats agreed to cap federal spending for the next two years. The White House interpretation of the caps has it telling lawmakers the deal would lower spending by about $1 trillion over a decade, while the GOP argues the spending cut is double that.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday estimated that the bill would cut deficits by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
Investors are signaling confidence the bill will win approval in time. The S&P 500 stock index closed little changed Tuesday, while Treasury yields fell on hopes that Congress will pass a deal.
The debt deal was poised Tuesday to pass its first test in the House Rules Committee, which controls floor debate. Representative Thomas Massie, a libertarian committee member, said he would vote to advance the measure to the House floor, suggesting sufficient support on the panel and thwarting hard-liners’ attempts to block the deal there.
Even so, McCarthy was fighting to ensure that a majority of his 222 members vote for the bill, limiting the reliance on minority Democrats to pass it. Falling short of that would politically weaken the speaker.
Across the full House, there are at least 17 GOP “no” votes. Representative Tom Emmer, the Republicans’ chief vote counter, worked the phones to prevent that number from swelling much beyond that.
Most hard-line conservatives have stopped short of publicly calling for McCarthy’s ouster, though at least one other conservative hinted at retaliation during a press conference at the Capitol by the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus. The group is demanding deeper cuts in federal spending.
“No matter what happens, there is going to be a reckoning,” Roy, a Texas Republican, said Tuesday, adding that GOP lawmakers have been “torn asunder” by the agreement.
Any House member can force a vote on removing the speaker, which requires a simple majority of the House. Traditionally members of the opposition party have not voted in favor of the speaker, though some moderate Democrats already have committed to support McCarthy in such a situation.
Bishop, a North Carolina Republican, said conservative dissidents will decide the best time to act against McCarthy. No other Republican lawmakers have explicitly called for his removal in public remarks.
“McCarthy has lost some trust,” said Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina.
Earlier: Biden-McCarthy Debt Deal Puts Government Services on a Diet
Compounding McCarthy’s challenge are Republican presidential contenders who have declared their opposition to the deal, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
Former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, hasn’t commented since the deal was announced, though he has previously urged Republicans to use the threat of default as leverage to get the spending cuts they want.
On Tuesday, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said it’s “premature” to discuss whether Democrats would support McCarthy on any motion to remove him.
The agreement has also angered Democrats’ left flank, with Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal saying Tuesday that most members of her group don’t support spending cuts, energy permitting language and expanded work requirements in the bill.
Progressive Democrats generally haven’t been as quick to condemn Biden or other party leaders as the far right. But the caucus, which numbers about 100 Democrats, hasn’t yet decided whether it’ll take an official stand, Jayapal said.
--With assistance from Jarrell Dillard.
(Updates with Rules Committee vote, in fourth paragraph.)
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