Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., who endorsed McCarthy as a speaker, said she too is undecided, arguing that if her party wants to target the poor, it should also «challenge the rich monopolists.»

If a bill is not passed with the Democrats, it could lead to a global economic collapse. But making the necessary compromises could put McCarthy’s job in the crosshairs, again, with the far right, as any member can force a House vote to oust the president.

The bill will be on the floor as soon as Wednesday.

“I view this vote more as a test of the members’ trust in him,” said Brendan Buck, a former adviser to former Republican President Paul Ryan. «Any final deal will be nothing like this bill, so it speaks more to how strong their position will be when they finally need to swallow very modest victories.»

Buck predicted that the White House would find it «untenable» not to negotiate the debt limit, whether or not McCarthy’s bill passes. «Now comes the hard part, but the fact that it is not facing a major upheaval bodes well for the survival of the eventual deal.»

Meanwhile, centrist or swing district Republicans such as Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, and Nancy Mace, RS.C., are also withholding their support. Mace said she leans no because the bill doesn’t balance the budget and could hurt green energy businesses in her state.

Seeking to assuage the fears of politically endangered Republicans, the American Action Network, a McCarthy-aligned group, commissioned a poll of 87 battleground districts that Biden narrowly won and found support for “cutting government spending” along with with an increase in the debt limit. He surveyby American Viewpoint, circulated in Washington last week.

And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted members of the Republican Party for repealing the clean energy financing and grant debt limit bill. The committee cited a report showing the district of far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, who just won re-election in 2022, has benefited from in-law wind power assistance from Democrats. Committee spokesman Tommy Garcia accused Boebert of «reckless behavior» and claimed the bill would «eliminate hundreds of jobs in Colorado.»

Some Republicans sympathize with McCarthy’s challenge.

«I think everybody knows that he’s doing the best he can given the cards he’s been dealt,» said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., a McCarthy ally and chief appropriator, citing the slim Republican majority and the fact that Democrats control the White House and the Senate.

To secure the gavel, McCarthy had to agree to a Freedom Caucus demand that deep spending cuts be tied to any increase in the debt ceiling. He also agreed to another crucial demand: to reinstate a House rule that a single lawmaker can force a vote to remove the sitting president at any time.

At least for now, no one is saying publicly that McCarthy’s presidency is at risk if he fails to pass his debt package. But Rep. Steve Womack, R-Arkansas, former chairman of the Budget Committee that backs the GOP package, paused for several seconds and stumbled over his response when asked about CBS News whether McCarthy’s presidency was «safe» if he fails to achieve any spending cuts in his debt talks with Biden.

“Uh, you know, that’s a tough question to answer,” Womack said, “because we have the ability to make a motion to vacate with a member; we have a majority of four seats.”

The debt debate comes against the backdrop of an internal GOP drama that recently came to light. The New York Times reported that McCarthy had privately criticized incumbent budget chairman Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, and his top deputy, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., who has long been seen as a potential rival. McCarthy’s comments came after Arrington quietly took polls during the speakers’ fight to see if his colleagues would support Scalise for the job, the Times reported.

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