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David Cohen

House majority whip rejects idea that GOP debt bill is doomed

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 20, 2023. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer on Sunday rejected the characterization of the Republican debt bill passed Wednesday as doomed to die in the Senate.

"To say it's dead on arrival in the Senate, when you've got even Joe Manchin suggesting support for this type of approach, I think that's not exactly accurate," Emmer (R-Minn.) said on CNN's "State of the Union," referring to the West Virginia Democratic senator.

The measure would limit federal discretionary spending and also avoid a default on the nation's debts. The legislation also contains a number of measures addressing favorite GOP concerns, including canceling President Joe Biden's effort to wipe out up to $10,000 of student debt for some borrowers.

The measure, which passed the House by a vote of 217-215, is widely perceived as having no chance of passing the Senate, where Democrats have a slim majority.

Emmer didn't explain why he thought Senate Democrats other than Manchin might come to embrace the legislation.

If no agreement is reached, the nation would bump up against its debt ceiling, which is now projected to happen in July, and default on its debts. President Joe Biden has said he is willing to negotiate over the nation's budget, but wants the debt limit raised independently of those talks, without any conditions, as occurred during the Trump administration. Most Capitol Hill Democrats have said the same thing.

Emmer said no negotiations are needed: The Senate could simply approve the House GOP bill and Biden could sign it.

"Our recommendation is: We passed it through the House; take it up in the Senate and pass it," Emmer said.

As he tried to redirect the narrative on the legislation, Emmer also rejected the idea that the bill was built on spending cuts, referring instead to "spending reforms."

"I take a little issue, Dana, with the cuts language that the media likes to use all the time," the Minnesota Republican told host Dana Bash. "This is a transformational bill. It would limit spending."

Speaking later on the same CNN program, former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said he didn't see much hope that the debt crisis would be resolved quickly or easily.

"I’m really concerned about the debt limit when we approach it," Kinzinger said.

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