An Anticlimactic End to the Debt Ceiling Saga

Happy Thursday! Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is taking over the keynote speaking slot at the Georgia GOP’s upcoming Victory Dinner after former Vice President Mike Pence backed out of the engagement. 

There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, but we can’t quite put our finger on it.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The House voted 314 to 117 on Wednesday to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Act, a bill suspending the debt ceiling until January 2025 in exchange for billions of dollars of spending cuts in the coming years. Seventy-one Republicans and 46 Democrats voted against the measure, but the Senate is expected to send it to President Joe Biden’s desk before the expected June 5 deadline to avoid default.
  • A number of central bank officials suggested Wednesday that—barring an unexpectedly hot jobs report Friday—the Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise interest rates in June. “Skipping a rate hike at a coming meeting would allow the committee to see more data before making decisions about the extent of additional policy firming,” said Fed Governor Phillip Jefferson, who was recently nominated for a promotion to vice chair of the central bank.
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reportedly plans to announce Tuesday—at an event in New Hampshire, an early primary state—that he’s running for the GOP presidential nomination. Former Vice President Mike Pence is also set to enter the race next week with a kick-off event in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday. According to early national surveys, both are currently polling in the low single digits, while former President Donald Trump holds a commanding lead over the field.
  • Biden has nominated Gen. Eric Smith to replace Gen. David Berger as commandant of the Marine Corps. Smith is the last of several nominees tapped to replace outgoing members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the highest-ranked uniformed members of the armed forces who advise the president on military matters. Smith is currently assistant commandant of the Marines.
  • U.S. Border Patrol head Raul Ortiz announced he will retire at the end of June after three decades with the agency. Ortiz has led the Border Patrol since 2021 and oversaw the end of the pandemic-era Title 42 policy. His replacement has not yet been named.
  • Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced this week he will eliminate college degree requirements for 90 percent of state jobs, joining eight other states—including Maryland and Pennsylvania—in a move intended to combat worker shortages and expand employment opportunities. The policy will take effect on July 1 for many of the roughly 20,000 openings Virginia state agencies advertise each year.
  • The Justice Department announced Wednesday it is suing coal companies owned by West Virginia’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice and his family over unpaid fines. The 128-page civil action seeks more than $5 million in damages from 13 Justice family businesses over unpaid penalties for more than 100 federal mining regulation violations, some of which were for practices that created “health and safety” risks. The suit doesn’t mention the GOP governor but comes as he launches a Senate bid that could set him up to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in 2024.
  • The Labor Department reported Wednesday job openings rose from 9.7 million in March to 10.1 million in April, reversing three months of declines. The quits rate—the percentage of workers who quit their job during the month—ticked down to 2.4 percent, while the number of layoffs and discharges decreased from 1.8 million to 1.6 million. The figures suggest demand for workers remains high even as the economy slows slightly.

Done Deal

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks following the House vote on Fiscal Responsibility Act. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks following the House vote on Fiscal Responsibility Act. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

In the end, it wasn’t close. After weeks of pizza-fueled meetings and high-stakes negotiations, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy convinced a majority of the Republicans in his conference to support a debt-ceiling deal backed by even more Democrats in the House.  

For all the dealmaking fireworks and warnings of economic doom, the debt ceiling showdown neared its conclusion with a comfortably bipartisan vote. The House voted 314 to 117 last night to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which would lift the debt ceiling and avoid what would likely be an economically catastrophic default, expected to hit as soon as June 5. A few more obstacles remain—the legislation still needs to pass the Senate—but the most difficult part of the process is now firmly in the rearview mirror.

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