GOP leaders in the House are vowing to hold a vote on their debt limit and spending cuts bill this week, but it isn’t clear the measure has the support of 218 lawmakers.
Republicans can only afford to lose four votes if all Democrats vote no — a united opposition that House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) suggested will take shape.
The bill, which marks the conference’s first legislative attempt at driving President Biden to the negotiating table on raising the nation’s borrowing limit, calls for increasing the debt limit by $1.5 trillion or through March 2024, whichever comes first, and includes about $4.5 trillion in savings.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is walking a tightrope in trying to win support from all corners of his caucus.
Here are five GOP lawmakers whose votes could give an indication of the bill’s prospects.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
Gaetz, who declined to support Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) during the Speaker’s race in January, is again threatening to withhold his vote from GOP leadership — this time on the debt limit bill.
The Florida Republican announced on his podcast Monday that he will not support the legislation to raise the borrowing cap unless it includes stronger work requirements for government benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which was previously known as food stamps.
In its current form, the debt limit bill would require that able-bodied adult recipients younger than 56 years old who do not have dependents work, look for work or volunteer for at least 20 hours a week beginning in 2025. Gaetz, however, wants 30 hour work requirements to start in 2024, a change that could put off moderate Republicans.
“An essential element to get my vote for any increase in the debt limit — and by the way, I never have voted for an increase in the debt limit — would be work requirements starting in 2024, not 2025 as this legislation is currently written, and I also believe that the work requirements have to be more rigorous than just 20 hours a week,” Gaetz said.
He reiterated his demand for stronger work requirements to begin in 2024 on Twitter, adding “Otherwise, it’s a no vote from me.”
On Tuesday, however, McCarthy told reporters that he would not reopen the bill for changes.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.)
Mace last week said she was leaning against voting for the GOP debt limit bill, a position she reaffirmed Tuesday.
The moderate Republican has raised concerns about the GOP proposal not helping balance the budget within the next 10 years and about it repealing some clean energy provisions, noting the Palmetto State has a number of solar farms.
“This isn’t a serious plan to tackle the spending and the debt problems that we have today. … I’m a no right now,” Mace said on Tuesday. “If it’s just a messaging bill, why aren’t we putting the best message forward to show how responsible Republicans can be when given the opportunity?”
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.)
Santos told The Hill last week that he is “a hard no,” but added “there’s always things that can change,” pointing to stronger work requirements. On Tuesday, he said his position had not changed.
The congressman filed an amendment to the bill that would change the average weekly work requirement from 20 hours to 30 hours.
Santos’s opposition to the bill in its current form offers an interesting dynamic for the New York Republican, who faces calls to resign amid controversy over his finances and fabrications but who Republican leaders — who haven’t echoed those calls — see as a crucial vote in the narrow majority.
Last week, Santos said that while he is supportive of McCarthy, he is standing by his constituents.
“My commitment here, despite being a Republican and very supportive of the Speaker, but my end-goal commitment is the buck stops with the constituents of my district, and this would hurt them,” he said.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)
Biggs told reporters last week that he was a “lean no” on the legislation, and his office on Tuesday said that was still his stance.
He told the conservative news network OAN he was “dubious” about the measure.
“You can either go off the cliff at 80 miles per hour, that’s the Democrat plan. So in 10 years you have debt in excess of $50 trillion….Or you could go off at 60 miles per hour, which is this plan. Which would give you a national debt somewhere around $45-$46 trillion over 10 years,” he said. “Either way, when you go off the cliff, you land, and it’s not a pretty sight.”
The congressman last week claimed that first-year savings in the measure would only amount to $76 billion, which would not cover the $1.5 trillion debt limit increase. Last month, Biggs released bill text for more than 500 pieces of legislation that, he said, would “save the nation roughly $100 billion in fiscal year 2024 and $1 trillion over a decade” when combined.
He referenced those measures when explaining his stance on the debt limit bill.
“Yeah. Right,” he said when asked if he wanted more concrete cuts. “Which is why I introduced the 501.”
Iowa’s four House members — all of whom are Republicans — are opposed to a provision in the debt limit bill that would repeal ethanol credits from the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, several outlets reported on Tuesday, a posture that could significantly hinder GOP leadership’s odds of passing their legislation.
And the concern isn’t limited to Iowa’s delegation — other Midwest Republicans reportedly have similar issues with the bill.
Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) on Tuesday introduced an amendment to strike the ethanol credits provision from the debt limit bill.
Collectively, the group could be enough to sink the measure.
Bonus: Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), other debt limit skeptics
Burchett told reporters on Tuesday that he is “definitely a no” on the debt limit bill, noting “I had a meeting and they didn’t show.” He did not, however, say who missed the meeting.
Burchett’s final answer comes after he said he was undecided last week. The Tennessee Republican, who came to Congress in 2019, previously noted that he did not support a debt limit hike under the Trump administration, and had said he could go down that path again.
“There will be some bloodletting. But I voted against it under Trump, I’m sure I could vote against raising the debt ceiling under Biden,” Burchett said at the end of March.
Burchett is not alone in being skeptical of debt limit increases. Congress passed three debt limit hikes during the Trump administration, all of which saw some Republican opposition.
Almost two dozen House Republicans currently serving in the chamber voted against all three.
The group includes McCarthy allies who are unlikely to oppose the increase this time around, including Emmer, House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer (Ala.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
But there are also some conservative lawmakers in that coalition, including Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a member of the group, and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who considers himself to be adjacent to the group.
Emily Brooks and Mike Lillis contributed.