Veering away from a default crisis, the House has approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package, as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans against fierce conservative blowback and progressive dissent.
The hard-fought deal pleased few, but lawmakers assessed it was better than the alternative — a devastating economic upheaval if Congress failed to act.
Tensions ran high throughout Wednesday as hard-right Republicans refused the deal to raise the nation's debt limit, now $31 trillion, while Democrats said “extremist” GOP views were risking a debt default as soon as next week.
With the House vote of 314-117, the bill now heads to the Senate with passage expected by week's end.
McCarthy insisted his party was working to "give America hope" as he launched into a late evening speech extolling the bill's budget cuts, which he said were needed to curb Washington's "runaway spending."
But amid discontent from Republicans who said the spending restrictions did not go far enough, McCarthy said it is only a "first step."
Biden hailed the vote a "a critical step" to prevent a devastating default and praised both parties for seeking a compromise.
"Tonight, the House took a critical step forward to prevent a first-ever default and protect our country’s hard-earned and historic economic recovery," Biden said in a statement, adding that "the only path forward is a bipartisan compromise."
Swift later in the week by the Senate would ensure government checks will continue to go out to Social Security recipients, veterans and others and would prevent financial upheaval at home and abroad.
Next Monday is when the Treasury has said the US would run short of money to pay its debts.