As U.S. House passes debt ceiling deal, 4 of South Carolina’s 7 representatives vote against it

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 10:03 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A deal intended to beat an impending deadline and avert a global financial crisis if the US defaults on its debt cleared a major hurdle Wednesday night, passing the US House of Representatives.

The “Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023,” brokered by negotiators for President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R – California, earned the required bipartisan support it needed to pass in a 314-117 vote after a number of Republicans said they would not back it.

Among the bill’s Republican opponents were four of South Carolina’s seven US representatives: Reps. Russell Fry, Nancy Mace, Ralph Norman, and William Timmons.

In statements and interviews before the vote, most of them expressed dissatisfaction with the legislation, saying it did not go far enough to cut government spending.

“Once you dissect the bill, this bill is un-American. It defies conservatism. No Republican should support this, and go back to the drawing table,” Republican Rep. Ralph Norman said during a news conference with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus on Tuesday.

South Carolina’s two other Republican representatives, Jeff Duncan, and Joe Wilson, joined the state’s only Democratic member of Congress, House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn, in supporting the legislation.

In a tweet Tuesday, Clyburn called the bill “a pretty good deal,” saying while no one would be totally satisfied by the compromise, it “prevents a default, preserves Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, and expands access to critical programs.”

Duncan was the only member of the seven who had not publicly declared his stance on the bill by Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would suspend the country’s debt limit until January 1, 2025, after the next election, to allow the US to keep borrowing money while capping federal non-defense spending.

“The way the package is set up now, if it passes in this way, again, the two major conclusions we can draw that are positive is that it does avoid a default, and it doesn’t do anything that increases the probability of recession later this year,” University of South Carolina Research Economist Joey Von Nessen said. “That’s important, given the US economy has been slowing over the last 12 months.”

The US Treasury Department has projected the country will run out of money to pay its bills Monday, so Congress faces a ticking clock to get a deal through and prevent the nation from defaulting on its debt.

“In general, we have seen this type of activity, this type of negotiation happen before, but from an economic perspective, there’s no incentive for either party to default,” Von Nessen said.

After passing the House, the deal next heads to the US Senate, where it will again need bipartisan backing to pick up the required 60 votes to get to the president’s desk.

Both of South Carolina’s Republican senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, have said they plan to vote against the bill.

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