The House Rules Committee advanced the debt ceiling bill to the floor Tuesday night, clearing a key hurdle as the legislation faces opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.
The panel voted 7-6 to adopt the rule — which governs debate on the legislation — with Republican Reps. Chip Roy (Texas) and Ralph Norman (S.C.) joining all Democrats in opposing the rule.
Adoption of the rule allows the debt limit bill to advance to the floor for debate and a vote Wednesday, just five days before the June 5 deadline. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the U.S. could default on its debts by that day if the borrowing limit is not raised.
It also marks a procedural victory for congressional leaders, who are working to rally support for the legislation ahead of Wednesday’s vote. A number of conservatives and some liberal House lawmakers have announced plans to vote against the bill, upping pressure on leaders to corral enough votes for the legislation to cross the finish line Wednesday.
The rule does not include any votes on amendments, according to Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.), despite dozens being submitted for consideration.
All eyes were on the Rules Committee on Tuesday as it considered the debt limit bill negotiated by President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). The legislation would raise the debt ceiling for two years, bolster work requirements for federal public assistance programs and claw back billions of dollars in unspent COVID-19 funds, among other provisions.
The measure, however, has drawn ire from liberals and conservatives, including two Republicans who sit on the Rules Committee: Roy and Norman. Both lawmakers railed against the legislation during a Tuesday press conference, with Roy calling on his GOP colleagues to oppose the “bad bill” and Norman labeling it “un-American” and arguing it “defies conservatism.”
Ahead of Tuesday’s high-profile vote, questions loomed about whether Roy, Norman and a third conservative Republican — Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.) — would attempt to block the debt limit bill from advancing to the floor by opposing the rule.
Votes in the Rules Committee typically fall along party lines, with the majority party supporting the rule and the minority party voting against it.
Norman on Tuesday said “if we can stop it there, I will stop it,” referring to the Rules Committee, and Roy on Sunday wrote on Twitter he’s “going to try” to stop the bill from clearing the House.
During Tuesday’s hearing, however, Massie said he planned to vote for the rule, virtually erasing any possibility of the bill being blocked from advancing to the floor.
Massie followed through with his statement during Tuesday evening’s vote when he supported the rule. He also told reporters he plans to vote for the bill when it comes to the floor Wednesday after announcing it in a closed-door GOP conference meeting minutes earlier.
“It’s because it cuts spending,” Massie told The Hill on Tuesday night when discussing his intent to support the bill.
“Nothing I’ve ever voted on has ever cut spending that’s passed that’s become law; this will,” he added.
During Tuesday’s Rules Committee hearing, Massie highlighted a provision in the debt limit bill that incentivizes Congress to pass 12 appropriations bills rather than relying on omnibus measures to fund the government. The provision threatens to cut government spending by one percent across the board if the measures are not approved by Jan. 1.
“There is one way in which I think this bill got better, and it is this 1 percent cut that we’re all agreeing to if we vote for this bill, Republicans and Democrat, come Jan. 1. If we haven’t done our homework, and if the Senate hasn’t done their homework, and if the president hasn’t signed those bills — so everybody is gonna be in this, responsible for the outcome,” Massie said.
Emily Brooks contributed. Updated at 9:54 p.m.