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House Passes Debt Ceiling Bill, Setting Up Crucial Senate Vote As Deadline Nears

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After a months-long impasse, the House on Wednesday night finally approved a bill to lift the nation’s debt limit and reduce government spending, clearing a crucial hurdle to avert a government default before a June 5 deadline.

The bipartisan measure, the result of a deal between Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, passed 314 to 117, with 165 Democrats joining 149 Republicans to support the plan. It now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

The grueling battle in the House, which had consumed lawmakers for months, ended with a round of bipartisan applause shortly after 9:20 p.m., when the legislation secured a majority. But the debt and budget-cuts package left few happy. On the right, deficit hawks and hard-right members grumbled that the deal did not cut spending enough. On the left, House progressives railed at Republicans’ move to push the nation to the brink of default to win budget concessions. Democratic critics said the agreement calls on Republicans to sacrifice very few priorities, while asking Democrats to accept steep reductions in programs that benefit vulnerable Americans.

Read more: Here’s What’s in the Debt Ceiling Bill

The compromise between McCarthy and Biden was sealed late Saturday after months of acrimonious debate. If approved by the Senate, it would suspend the $31.4 trillion debt limit until Jan. 2025, giving the Treasury Department the ability to borrow as much as it needs until then to pay America’s bills. In exchange, the legislation would cut federal spending by $1.5 trillion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, by effectively freezing some funding that had been projected to increase next year and then limiting spending to 1% growth in 2025. The legislation would also impose stricter work requirements for food stamps, claw back some funding for Internal Revenue Service (IRS) enforcement and unspent COVID-19 relief money, accelerate the permitting of new energy projects, and officially end the Biden Administration’s student loan repayment freeze.

Democrats took comfort in the fact that the cuts were less severe than the ones House Republicans approved in their budget blueprint in April. Compared with the GOP budget, the agreement does not repeal a host of green energy tax incentives established under Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act or impose new work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

Even so, not all Democrats were on board. Some progressive members of Congress were dismayed that the deal imposed new work requirements on people aged 50 to 54 in order to receive food stamps. Others voiced frustration that Biden had to negotiate with McCarthy at all over the debt ceiling, complained that the White House had ignored them in its negotiations with Republicans, and said the deal would do too little to protect programs for the poor.

“This is not our deal. This is a right wing, center-right deal,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “If we want to have credibility with the progressive wing of the party, then we need to be able to show that we’re fighting for them.”

The GOP extracted less than some in the party expected, forcing the Republican majority in the House to rely on Democratic votes. It was nonetheless a key test for McCarthy, who was able to strike a deal with Biden while navigating the complicated politics of his own fractious conference. Still, McCarthy saw 71 defections from his side of the aisle. Members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus criticized the outcome. “Nobody could have done a worse job,” said Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, a hard-right Republican who has publicly said that he considered the deal as grounds for ousting McCarthy from his post. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said the deal had torn the conference “asunder.”

Read more: What To Know About the History of the Debt Ceiling

The bill now heads to the Senate, where members of both parties have made clear their intention to demand votes on amendments in exchange for allowing the legislation to pass quickly. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has said he will seek an amendment to renegotiate military funding levels, while Sen. Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, said he would push for an amendment to strip out a provision to expedite federal permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a controversial natural-gas pipeline between West Virginia and Virginia that has been repeatedly stalled on environmental concerns.

Senate leaders say they are confident they can generate enough support among Democrats and Republicans to get the 60 votes required to send the bill to Biden’s desk. Yet it could be a bumpy finish to a long and painful process. Amendments to the legislation would require that it be sent back to the House, potentially delaying final passage as the June 5 deadline looms. “I can tell you what I hope happens is that those who have amendments, if given votes, will yield back time so that we can finish this Thursday or Friday and soothe the country and soothe the markets,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Wednesday.

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Write to Nik Popli at nik.popli@time.com