President Joe Biden signed the debt ceiling bill into law on Saturday a week after reaching a deal with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
“No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed. We averted an economic crisis, an economic collapse. We’re cutting spending and bringing the deficits down at the same time,” Biden said at the White House on Friday. “We’re protecting important priorities, from Social Security, to Medicare, to Medicaid, to veterans, to our transformational investments in infrastructure and clean energy.”
“I want to commend Senator — Speaker McCarthy. You know, he and I, we — and our teams — we were able to get along and get things done. We were straightforward with one another, completely honest with one another, and respectful with one another. Both sides operated in good faith. Both sides kept their word,” Biden said.
The president added:
And I also want to commend other congressional leaders: House Minority Leader Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Senate Minority Leader McConnell. They acted responsibly and put the good of the country ahead of politics.
The final vote in both chambers was overwhelming, far more bar- — bipartisan than anyone thought was possible.
“Though conservatives can look to the [National Environmental Policy Act] permitting reforms as a pro-growth silver lining, this bill largely locks in the woke federal agenda,” Richard Stern, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, told The Daily Signal in a written statement. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
“This bill gives Biden a blank check until after the election while only giving a promise on meager spending cuts. With the slush funds in and outside of the bill, and the side deals between the White House and Congressional leaders, this will likely result in an increase in federal spending,” Stern said. “Only in D.C. can an increase in spending be classified as a cut. This is how we got to into the fiscal disaster we’re in now.”
Some of the 31 Republican senators who voted against the legislation include Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, J.D. Vance of Ohio, Mike Lee of Utah, and Katie Britt of Alabama.
Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon voted against the legislation. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also voted no.
“I was obligated by my commitment to our planet and to the everyday families across the Commonwealth and nation struggling to make ends meet to vote against the debt limit deal,” Markey said in a statement after the vote. “This package will fast-track dirty fossil fuel projects at the expense of environmental justice and local communities, and will give Big Oil and Big Gas a Get Out of Jail Free card.”
Markey was criticizing reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act, which regulates energy projects.
The House voted on Wednesday evening to pass the debt ceiling bill, 314-117, with some of the House’s most conservative Republicans opposing it as not going far enough to establish fiscal discipline.
A total of 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats voted for the legislation, while 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats voted against it. Another four House members didn’t vote.
Among the 71 Republicans who voted against the legislation were Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Bob Good of Virginia, Eli Crane of Arizona, and Andrew Clyde of Georgia.
The 99-page bill, called the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, would rescind roughly $30 billion of unspent COVID-19 relief funds; completely fund veterans’ medical care as proposed in the president’s budget for fiscal year 2024, and end the COVID-19-era pause in repaying student loans in late August, The Associated Press reported.
The bill emerging from the Biden-McCarthy deal also aims to keep nondefense spending “relatively flat” in fiscal year 2024; increase non-defense spending by 1% in fiscal year 2025; and accelerate completion of a natural gas pipeline in West Virginia called the Mountain Valley Pipeline, CNN reported.
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