McCarthy Notches Biggest Win Since Getting the Speaker's Gavel, and the Senate Has Grown a Spine

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has gotten a debt limit bill through the House, ending weeks of speculation from detractors and putting the ball squarely in Joe Biden’s court. What’s more, the fact that McCarthy has suddenly received an outpouring of support from Republicans in the Senate – including moderate ones – shows the GOP is ready to start fighting back.


The Limit, Save, Grow Act passed the House last night, representing McCarthy’s biggest win since he overcame opposition to his Speakership earlier this year. While the White House and the Democrats have been claiming they won’t accept anything other than a clean debt ceiling increase, McCarthy’s victory here will force the Biden administration to come to the table with Republicans, which itself is a big victory.

Moreover, the fact that he’s received support from Mitch McConnell (as well as others) is key, as it means the White House can’t do an end-run around the House and force the issue.

Punchbowl News breaks it down in their morning newsletter.

McCarthy also secured an extremely useful talking point. No matter how right-leaning and unrealistic the 320-page package is, House Republicans are the only ones to have passed legislation to lift the nation’s borrowing cap. McCarthy plans now to sit, pat and slam Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for doing nothing and President Joe Biden for refusing to negotiate.

“Now, the president can no longer put this economy in jeopardy. We have lifted the debt limit, we have done our job, we are the only body that passed anything,” McCarthy said after the vote.

McCarthy received calls from a number of Senate Republicans on Wednesday night congratulating him on passing the bill. It’s clear that there isn’t support in the Senate GOP Conference for a clean debt-limit measure, not right now anyway. The White House won’t be able to try bypassing McCarthy by cutting a deal with Senate Republicans.


I mentioned previously just how vital Senate Republican support is, and specifically that support from the moderate wing of the caucus. With folks like Todd Young, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney lending their vocal support, as well as Mitch McConnell publicly calling on Biden to come to the table to negotiate with McCarthy, it’s clear Biden will have little choice in the matter but to go sit down.

And therein lies the problem for Biden. Because the Democrats have no plan and were never interested in negotiating, they called McCarthy’s bluff, and he responded with a bill. Now the House has the upper hand, which infuriates the Democrats. And it also frightens them.

See, Biden comes from an era of politician that still believes “We have to do something” means “We have to do something.” Politicians today say “We have to do something” but have no real plan to accomplish much of anything other than try to make the other party look bad. But Biden will be forced to go to the negotiating table, and he’ll come away with a compromise, which is exactly what Democrats don’t want.

If the Republicans can be negotiated with, it means they aren’t the rabid extremists the Democrats have painted them as. And the Democrats know Biden’s desire to “do something” will lead him to negotiate. That is unacceptable to them because they don’t want to get in the habit of tying the debt ceiling to budget cuts. That would be disastrous for their fiscal philosophy (inasmuch as they are considered to have one).


Good for McCarthy for sticking to this fight. Part of it is the fact that he has to, because the wing of the party to his right would never let anything else pass, but also for not cutting a bad deal to make everyone happy. That may still happen, but as of now, Biden is stuck in a bad position.

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