“We’re going to pass the bill,” House Speaker McCarthy said as he exited a lengthy Tuesday night meeting at the Capitol.
Despite deep disappointment from right-flank Republicans that the compromise falls short of the spending cuts they demanded, McCarthy insisted he would have the votes needed to ensure approval.
The package leaves few lawmakers fully satisfied, but Biden and McCarthy are counting on pulling majority support from the political center, a rarity in divided Washington, testing the leadership of the Democratic president and the Republican Speaker.
Overall, the 99-page bill restricts spending for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling into January 2025 and changes policies, including new work requirements for older U.S. citizens receiving food aid, and greenlighting an Appalachian natural gas line that many Democrats oppose.
Quick approval by the House and later in the week the Senate would ensure government checks will continue to go out to Social Security recipients, veterans and others and would prevent financial upheaval at home and abroad. Next Monday is when the Treasury has said the U.S. would run short of money to pay its debts, risking an economically dangerous default.
But there is opposition under the Capitol dome.
House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said it was up to McCarthy to turn out votes from some two-thirds of the Republican majority, a high bar the speaker may not be able to reach. In the 435-member House, 218 votes are needed for passage.
Still, Jeffries said the Democrats would do their part to avoid failure.
“It is my expectation that House Republicans would keep their promise and deliver at least 150 votes as it relates to an agreement that they themselves negotiated,” Jeffries said. “Democrats will make sure that the country does not default.”
The House aims to hold procedural votes Wednesday afternoon with final action expected in the evening. It would then send the bill to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader McConnell are working for passage by week's end.
Schumer called the bill a “sensible compromise.” McConnell said McCarthy “deserves our thanks.”
Senators, who have remained largely on the sidelines during much of the negotiations between the president and the House speaker, began inserting themselves more forcefully into the debate.
Some senators are insisting on amendments to reshape the package from both the left and the right flanks. But making any changes to the package at this stage seemed unlikely with so little time to spare before Monday's deadline.