Georgia lawmakers give debt ceiling deal cautious reception

WASHINGTON — Now that President Joe Biden and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have created the framework of an agreement to raise the nation’s debt limit and avoid default, each will be leaning on members of Congress from their respective parties to vote in favor of the deal.

But there are already signs that far-right Republicans are unhappy with what McCarthy has negotiated and progressive Democrats have also expressed concerns, although most lawmakers say they are holding comment until they have time to review legislation that as of Sunday afternoon was still being finalized.

“I look forward to getting the bill text so I can read it and have meaningful conversation about what is in it,” Rep. Rich McCormick, a Suwanee Republican said.

Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, was similarly cautious. “I look forward to learning more about the specifics of the agreement and the impact it would have on the people I was sent to Washington to represent,” she said.

Williams was planning to participate with other Democrats in a private briefing with White House staff Sunday evening. She is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has criticized Republicans’ efforts to expand work requirements for people on public assistance as part of any debt ceiling deal. The Biden-McCarthy agreement does expand work requirements for non-disabled, childless adults on food assistance, but it does not go as far as some Democrats had feared.

Most members of Georgia’s congressional delegation did not respond to requests for comment or, like Williams and McCormick, said they were waiting to weigh in.

The House is expected to vote on the legislation Wednesday. It will likely need bipartisan support because of Republicans’ thin majority and the likelihood that hardliners in both parties will vote “no.” If approved in the House, then the measure would go to the Senate, where bipartisan support would be needed to fast-track a vote.

The White House’s latest estimate is that the nation will default on its debt on or around June 5 unless legislation is approved before then.

There are some early indications that Rep. Andrew Clyde might join other far-right members in opposing the deal. He had hoped that McCarthy would get Biden to accept the GOP-backed legislation that paired a debt limit increase with drastic reductions in federal spending.

Hours before Biden and McCarthy announced a deal had been reached, Clyde responded negatively to rumors about what had been negotiated.

“A $4 trillion debt ceiling increase?” he wrote on Twitter. “With virtually none of the key fiscally responsible policies passed in the Limit, Save, Grow Act kept intact? Hard pass. Hold the line.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene indicated she was pleased with McCarthy’s leadership during more than a week of White House negotiations. In a post on Twitter, she said the agreement would claw back unspent COVID-19 dollars that would have been used for vaccines and public health programs in other countries.

Later, she responded sarcastically to a tweet criticizing Biden for agreeing to too many of Republicans’ demands. She wrote: “Democrats seem happy with Biden’s deal with McCarthy on the debt ceiling.”

Rich McCormick

Credit: contributed

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Credit: contributed

Candidate Access: Nikema Williams, Democratic candidate for Georgia U.S. District 5

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