House Republicans’ sweeping plan to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending cleared a key procedural hurdle on Wednesday as leaders race to tee up a full floor vote.
The House voted 219-210 to approve the rule governing debate on the bill. The same rule also governs debate on a separate resolution.
GOP leaders have set their sights on passing the plan later on Wednesday.
“We’re working to get this done as soon as possible,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said heading into the chamber ahead of the rule vote. “Our members are very focused on getting this done.”
The vote on the rule comes as leadership appears to be making progress winning over some of the bill’s key Republican detractors. Still, it’s not clear yet whether the changes were enough to lock down the support of 218 Republicans — a vote for the rule doesn’t always indicate support for the measure itself.
The bill was on shakier ground as recently as Tuesday night, when several members hardened their ‘no’ votes. But overnight, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) acquiesced to making tweaks to the bill in a bid to lock down support.
One of the changes adopted would speed up implementation of proposed work requirements for programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Another did away with language targeting tax credits for biofuels, which appears to have gotten Midwestern Republicans on board.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) also said she plans to support the bill. She became a vote to watch after previously saying she wouldn’t back the measure due to issues with green energy provisions and concerns the bill didn’t go far enough in tackling the nation’s debt.
Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) also emerged as a potential wild card heading into the Speaker’s office ahead of the rule vote, telling reporters she’s also undecided.
The bill would raise the debt limit through next March or increase the ceiling by $1.5 trillion, whichever happens first, in exchange for a slew of Republican proposals to cut spending.
Those include measures to cap government funding hashed out by appropriators annually at fiscal year 2022 levels, limit spending growth to 1 percent annually, put an end to popular Biden administration decisions on student loans, and beef up work requirements for public assistance programs.
Democrats have come out in strong opposition to the package, doubling down on calls for a “clean” bill to raise the debt ceiling.
Congress is expected to have until sometime in the summer to lift the debt ceiling or risk a national default.
The cap was last raised to roughly $31.4 trillion in 2021. But after the national debt ran up on that amount earlier this year, the Treasury Department began implementing what it called “extraordinary measures” to keep the nation from defaulting on its debt.