May 31, 2023 House passes US debt ceiling bill

By Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Tori B. Powell and Elisabeth Buchwald, CNN

Updated 11:13 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023
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11:03 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

McCarthy takes victory lap after debt limit passage: “One of the best nights since I’ve been here”

From CNN's Haley Talbot and Melanie Zanona

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reacts during a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday night.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reacts during a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday night. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy took a victory lap immediately after the House passed the debt limit deal with a big bipartisan showing. 

"I have been thinking about this day since before my vote for speaker because I knew the debt ceiling was coming. I wanted to make history,” a beaming McCarthy said. 

The speaker thanked his negotiating team, Reps. Garret Graves and Patrick McHenry, saying: "They've given their time and talents in this effort for more than a month.”

When pressed on his relationship with President Joe Biden after this process, he lamented that “he hasn’t invited me to dinner or lunch yet, so.” 

McHenry said it was an honor to be part of the team. Graves said many believed this would be a dysfunctional Congress, but instead the speaker was making this a “transformational Congress.” 

10:54 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Biden called McCarthy and other congressional leaders after vote, White House says

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

President Joe Biden called House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other congressional leaders Wednesday night after the debt ceiling bill cleared the House, a White House official said.

Biden called McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Minority Whip Katherine Clark and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, the official said.

Biden watched the vote with staff from Colorado Springs. Counselor Steve Ricchetti and Legislative Affairs Director Louisa Terrell, two of the White House negotiators, joined by phone as votes were being cast.

Ricchetti, Terrell and other legislative staff held a watch party in the West Wing, for which Ricchetti provided pizza.

10:51 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Republican who voted against debt limit deal says she still trusts McCarthy

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer 

Rep. Nancy Mace said that she still trusts House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, despite her frustrations with and opposition to the debt limit deal that passed the House on Wednesday night.

“I do. I disagree with him vehemently on this thing tonight, but we can agree to disagree on a lot of things,” she said. 

Mace defended her vote against the bill, despite 149 of her Republican colleagues supporting it.

“There were more votes from Democrats than there were Republicans and I think, the far left know, the progressives know how good of a deal they got tonight,” she said. “This was not a compromise. Republicans got very little. We're adding $4 trillion of debt over the next two years, there's no cap on the debt limit itself, on the debt ceiling, and you know, we're expanding and growing government welfare. That's what happened tonight.”
10:51 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Conservatives in the House will discuss ousting McCarthy from the speakership, Rep. Ken Buck says

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pauses during a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday night.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pauses during a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday night. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Rep. Ken Buck told CNN after the debt limit deal passed the House that conservatives will be having discussions about ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy “in the next week or two,” although he didn’t commit to following through with that threat.

“The discussion about the motion to vacate is going to happen in the next week or two,” Buck, who opposed the debt limit deal, told reporters Wednesday.

Buck added that he has received calls from constituents about removing McCarthy from the speakership.

“My constituents are furious and you know what's so interesting about the calls in the district? They are not only ‘vote against this bill,’ but they are ‘take McCarthy out.’ That's what the calls are coming in,” he said.

Buck emphasized more Democrats voted for the bill in the House than Republicans.

“There has been a reassessment of the coalition. So what happened was conservatives joined with McCarthy to get McCarthy elected. Now Democrats have joined with McCarthy to pass bills,” he said. “So there was a big reassessment of the coalition for power in the House.”

However, pressed on his position on ousting McCarthy, he would not commit to attempting to do so at this point.

“My position is we're gonna have a discussion. Remember, you got that on there? And I — we are going to have a discussion starting next week," Buck said.

Asked by CNN if he would trust McCarthy to get them through the appropriations process, as conservative Rep. Ralph Norman suggested, Buck replied: “You trust him for appropriations? Because here’s what happens – no.”

9:49 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Biden praises House for passing debt limit deal and urges Senate to “pass it as quickly as possible”

President Joe Biden praised the House for passing the bipartisan debt limit deal Wednesday night, and urged the Senate to “pass it as quickly as possible” so he can sign it into law.

“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 moments after the House voted to pass the bill. “This budget agreement is a bipartisan compromise. Neither side got everything it wanted. That’s the responsibility of governing. I want to thank Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy and his team for negotiating in good faith, as well as Leader [Hakeem] Jeffries for his leadership.
“I have been clear that the only path forward is a bipartisan compromise that can earn the support of both parties,” he continued. “This agreement meets that test."
9:45 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Trump on the debt ceiling deal: “I would’ve taken the default if you had to”

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Former President Donald Trump weighed in Wednesday for the first time on the debt ceiling deal reached by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“I would’ve taken the default if you had to, if you didn't get it right,” Trump said on the Des Moines radio station News Radio 1040 WHO. “But that's not where they were going and I think it was an opportunity, but it was also, they got something done. Kevin worked very hard. Everybody worked very hard. I mean, with a lot of good intention. I would’ve taken a different stance, but it's done. They've got the vote. We knew they were going to have the vote and we'll get it fixed in two years.”

Trump said he would have liked to see "a lot of things" happen, but acknowledged the deal "was a good opportunity."

"It is passed, and I guess I knew it was going to pass," he said.

Lawmakers are now racing to approve the deal to avert a catastrophic default ahead of the expected June 5 deadline. The deal suspends the nation’s debt limit through January 1, 2025, caps non-defense spending, expands work requirements for some food stamp recipients and claws back some Covid-19 relief funds.

9:31 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

JUST IN: House passes debt limit bill

From Clare Foran, Kristin Wilson and Haley Talbot

The House has passed the debt limit deal to suspend the nation’s debt ceiling through January 1, 2025. 

The final tally for the vote was 314 to 117. 

A total of 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats voted for the bill, while 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats voted against the bill.  

The bill will next need to be passed by the Senate before it can be sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. It’s not yet clear when the Senate will vote. 

9:07 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

NOW: Vote on the debt limit bill is underway

From Clare Foran, Kristin Wilson and Haley Talbot

Members of the House of Representatives are now voting on the final passage of the debt limit bill.

The bill is expected to pass. It needs a simple majority – 218 – to pass.

The current CNN whip count has at least 56 votes against the bill – 13 Democrats and 43 Republicans. 

Speaker Kevin McCarthy told CNN earlier Wednesday that he is confident the debt limit deal will pass with a majority of House Republicans’ support, a critical threshold that GOP leaders have been feverishly working to secure over the last several days. 

8:31 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

McCarthy defends debt limit deal on floor ahead of House vote

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Speaker Kevin McCarthy defended the debt limit deal from conservative criticism during a speech on the floor while the House debated. 

He said if he voted no on the agreement because of what it lacked, he "would never vote yes." His comments come after conservatives in his conference have claimed the bill does not go far enough to cut spending.

“I simply read the bills in front of me and decide, is this good for the country? I would say that answer is easily, yes," McCarthy said. “To continue Washington's spending addiction is both irresponsible and just wrong, so let's stop. I'll be honest tonight's bill doesn't stop it, but for the first time we begin to turn the ship.”
“Passing the fiscal responsibility act is a crucial first step for putting American back on track,” he said. “Yes, it may not include everything we need to do, but it is absolutely what we need to do right now.”

McCarthy touted the bill’s provisions on work requirements, clawing back COVID funding and rescinding funding for the IRS.

He also previewed the appropriations fights to come.

“Moving forward, House Republicans will build on its structural reforms. And as we do, the American people can be confident in this: I’ve never given up,” he said.