Wednesday, May 31, 2023

HR 3746 Rule Published – Debt Limit Bill

Yesterday, the House Rules Committee met to craft the rule for the consideration of HR 3746, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. As expected, the Committee crafted a closed rule, with limited debate (1 hour) and no amendments to be offered on the floor. The Committee did approve (and incorporated into the version of the bill to considered on the floor) one amendment that made a variety of technical changes to the bill.

There were 81 amendments submitted to the Committee, while would have made relatively minor changes to the language of the bill, most would have made significant changes to the deal crafted over the weekend. If almost any of the 80 other amendments had been incorporated into the final bill, they would have essentially killed the deal that brought the bill to the floor of the House today.

The Committee vote on the bill yesterday was unusual, a 9 to 7 vote in favor of adoptions. Typically votes in this Committee are 9 to 4, reflecting the party composition of the Committee. Yesterday two Republicans {Rep Norman (R,SC) and Rep Roy (R,TX)} voted against the bill. These two, along with Rep Massie (R,TX) were appointed to the Committee as part of the deal through which Rep McCarthy (R,CA) was finally elected to Speaker of the House. I suspect that there was a great deal of arm twisting applied to Massie to get his yeah vote. If his vote had gone the other way, I suspect that the Democrats would have provided a single yeah vote to move the bill to the floor.

According to reporting by the NY Times, it does not look like Chip Roy, the prima facia leader of the Republican opposition, will resort to the use of a vacate motion to slow consideration of the bill. But, as I noted yesterday, he does not really control the bomb throwers on the right. A motion to vacate may still come if/when the bill is approved in the House. Even if (as I expect that he would) McCarthy survives such a vote, it will almost certainly fatally damage his tenuous control of the Republican fringe in the House and will force him to work more often with Democrats to move legislation (especially spending bills) through the House during the remainder of the session.

On a side note, there were only 21 bills introduced yesterday. That was not surprising given that both the House was originally scheduled to working in their districts (read fund raising) this week. One bill that is worth mentioning here is HR 3750 introduced by Rep Mills (R,FL), it would provide a one-week extension of the debt limit. If HR 3746 fails in either the House or Senate (still a possibility, however remote), this bill may become an important vehicle extending the deadline for a new deal.

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