Hours before the House of Representatives voted to raise the debt ceiling, Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) endorsed the agreement.
Gottheimer said the bipartisan agreement will prevent an economic collapse while lawmakers address the longer-term fiscal health of the U.S.
“I’ve said for months that all sides have to sit down at the table to get this done, because defaulting is not an option,” the North Jersey lawmaker said in an announcement May 31. “It would hurt our children and families, our seniors, and our veterans—and put our leadership in the world at risk.”
The House of Representatives on May 31 overwhelmingly passed legislation negotiated by President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy to suspend the debt ceiling and set federal spending limits, as a broad bipartisan coalition lined up to cast a critical vote to pull the nation back from the brink of economic catastrophe.
The 314-to-117 vote came days before the nation was set to exhaust its borrowing limit, and days after a marathon set of talks between White House negotiators and top House Republicans yielded a breakthrough agreement. On the final vote, 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats backed the measure, while 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats opposed it. Hard-right lawmakers had whipped against the deal, arguing that it does nothing to secure the kind of deep spending cuts and rollbacks of Biden Administration policies for which they have advocated for.
The centerpiece of the agreement remains a two-year suspension of the debt ceiling at $31.4 trillion, allowing the government to keep borrowing money and pay its bills on time. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has told lawmakers that the federal government would run out of cash on June 5 if the ceiling isn’t raised.
In exchange for suspending the limit, Republicans demanded a range of policy concessions from President Joe Biden. Among them are limits on the growth of federal discretionary spending over the next two years, work requirements for certain recipients of food stamps and the Temporary Aid for Needy Families program, accelerating the permitting of energy projects, and clawing back IRS and unspent COVID-19 funding.
The House Rules Committee voted to advance the bill to the House floor on a narrow vote May 30, with two ultraconservative GOP members of the panel bucking their party to oppose allowing the plan to be considered. The vote is scheduled to be held on the night of May 31.
PSC Delivering Votes
The need for votes, especially from moderates on both sides of the aisle, is why Washington insiders were awaiting to see what the PSC would do. The endorsement means at least 75% of its 64 members of the caucus, with at least half support coming from both parties, will back the package.
“Our Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus will once again deliver the outcome-determinative votes to save America from this impending crisis,” said PSC Co-Chair Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
Read the Comments from the North Jersey House Delegation
that All Voted for the Debt Ceiling Deal
The PSC in April offered a plan to suspend the debt ceiling through the end of this year; form an external Fiscal Commission to review and recommend a package to stabilize long-term deficits and debt due by Dec. 31, 2024; adopt controls for the FY2024 budget and appropriations cycle and beyond to help stabilize the nation’s long-term budget during the commission’s work; and adopt bipartisan budget process that would mandate regular order for budget and appropriations process.
“The Problem Solvers Caucus Bipartisan Framework that we endorsed and advanced last month once again played an instrumental role in breaking the gridlock, providing the White House and Congressional negotiators with a two-party solution to guide their conversations,” commented Fitzpatrick. “Our bipartisan caucus is now proud to overwhelmingly endorse this two-party solution…that both avoids default and also begins the process of putting our nation on a path to fiscal sustainability.”
Gottheimer added that with the current divided government, the bill serves as a template for lawmakers to work together to find a solution that gets legislation across the finish line.
“We’ve had close discussions with the White House, negotiators, and congressional leadership from both sides of the aisle,” he said. “In the end, this vote will happen from the middle out and the Problem Solvers will play a key role in getting this legislation across the finish line and preventing a default.”