U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has begun working in earnest to persuade his fellow Republicans to support a $1.5 trillion increase in the nation’s debt ceiling, amid early indications of a possible revolt in his thin majority.
McCarthy faces the toughest test of his young speakership with a bill he hopes to pass in the House of Representatives next week — a measure that rankles some in his rank-and-file by authorizing more government debt. He is trying to couple it with tough new spending controls.
It is his opening shot in a negotiation with Democratic President Joe Biden, whose party also controls the U.S. Senate. If the divided Congress fails to raise the federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, the government could face a default that would shake the U.S. and world economies.
“We’re in very good shape. We just rolled it out yesterday. We’re working, talking through all the members,” McCarthy told reporters on Thursday.
Financial markets are already showing signs of worry about the standoff, with the cost of insuring exposure to U.S. debt at its highest level in a decade and financial analysts raising concerns about rising risk of default.
U.S. Representative Don Bacon, a Republican from Nebraska, told reporters he supports the legislation but said if the vote were held on Thursday it might not pass, as some in the caucus are “struggling” with it.
It is not unusual for members of Congress to sometimes withhold their support for legislation as a way of winning concessions. That does not mean that in the end they will defy their leadership.