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Debt Limit Bill Heads to Key Committee in First Test of G.O.P. Support

Legislation to raise the government debt ceiling and set federal spending limits begins its obstacle-laden route through Congress on Tuesday with consideration by a crucial panel where it will face its first test, as congressional leaders rush to win passage before a default projected in less than a week.

The House Rules Committee is typically a rubber stamp for party leaders, but the panel includes some hard-right Republicans whom Speaker Kevin McCarthy added in January to help him win over conservatives during his battle for the speakership. Now that concession could prove problematic, with far-right lawmakers in revolt over the debt limit deal between Mr. McCarthy and President Biden.

They have argued that the plan does not cut spending substantially enough and threatened to use their seats on the panel to try to block it from the floor.

The committee is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. to consider the ground rules for bringing the package to a vote as early as Wednesday. The bill was finalized on Sunday after Mr. Biden and Mr. McCarthy sealed their deal, and aides rushed to draft it into legislation that will have to be considered swiftly to avoid a default as soon as June 5, when Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has estimated the federal government will run out of cash to pay its bills without action by Congress.

Two of the Rules Committee’s arch-conservative members, Representative Chip Roy of Texas and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, have registered strong opposition to the measure and could vote against allowing it to move forward, in a sharp break with the speaker. If they are joined by another Republican on the committee, they could sideline the agreement before it even reaches the floor.

A third ultraconservative on the panel, Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, is considered a potential ally of Mr. Roy and Mr. Norman but has shown receptiveness to the debt limit deal. He has cited a provision he helped write that would automatically cut spending if Congress fails to enact the annual appropriations bills. Lawmakers are generally expected to back bills they had a hand in writing, even if they object to other aspects.

“This debt deal arguably puts us on a better footing to do the appropriations process properly,” Mr. Massie said on Twitter on Monday.

If the hard-right Republicans ganged up on the legislation, G.O.P. members backing the bill could also look to Democrats on the panel for support for the measure. But the minority party historically opposes the majority in procedural issues. If Mr. McCarthy were forced to rely on Democrats for a victory on the rule, he would look weak and could be vulnerable to an effort to oust him. Democrats would also likely seek some trade-off in exchange for their support.

Mr. Roy added another potential complication on Monday when he said on Twitter that Mr. McCarthy had promised during negotiations to win the speakership that bills would move to the floor only with the support of all Republicans on the Rules Committee.

“A reminder that during Speaker negotiations to build the coalition, that it was explicit both that nothing would pass Rules Committee without AT LEAST 7 GOP votes — AND that the Committee would not allow reporting out rules without unanimous Republican votes,” he wrote.

That arrangement was not part of the rules package endorsed by Republicans and passed by the House, but Mr. McCarthy agreed to several informal deals that have never been disclosed. The speaker’s office did not respond to a request for a reaction to Mr. Roy, and Mr. McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol on Monday that he was unconcerned about discussions about the prospects for the legislation at the Rules Committee.

The panel is just one of the hurdles the legislation will have to clear in what is likely to be a nearly weeklong push to passage before next Monday.

If it emerges from the Rules Committee, the bill will need a combination of Republican and Democratic votes to pass the House. It would then head to the Senate, where conservative Republicans are also unhappy with the framework and can at minimum slow its passage with procedural tactics.

“Conservatives have been sold out once again!” Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who has been known to throw up procedural obstacles to legislation in the past, declared on Twitter.

As senators sifted through the legislation, one Senate Republican aide said there was growing unease about the level of Pentagon spending that would be allowed under the legislation but that the unrest probably would not be enough to derail the bill in the Senate with the default looming.

Mr. Biden sought to relieve those concerns about military spending on Monday, telling reporters at the White House that “obviously if there’s any existential need for additional funding, I have no doubt we’ll be able to get it.”

He remained confident the legislation would be approved before a default.

“There is no reason it shouldn’t get done by the 5th,” he said. “I’m confident that we’ll get a vote in both houses and we’ll see.”

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