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Are US arms sent to Ukraine being tracked so they can't be used to attack Russia?

Serhii Mykhalchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Paramilitary organizations making the largest cross-border attack inside Russia since the war began have maintained they're fighting for Ukraine and reportedly claimed to have conducted another operation Thursday.

But more than a week after verified images appeared to show that the fighters were equipped with U.S.-supplied military vehicles in their initial incursion, the Biden administration has yet to say whether the groups are formally fighting in coordination with Kyiv.

The incidents raise questions about whether they put at risk the main U.S. strategic goal of avoiding escalation with Moscow -- "World War III" as the White House has warned -- and they come just when the conflict appears poised to intensity with Ukraine's long-awaited spring offensive.

And, they raise practical concerns about whether that goal could be undermined given questions about how well the U.S. keeps track of the billions in arms and equipment it has sent to Ukraine.

Any assessment from Washington on whether the groups are operating within the Ukrainian government's chain of command could have significant impact in determining whether any end-use violation or breach of agreement occurred if the fighters were given access to the equipment or pave the way for Kyiv to openly outfit the fighters with donated weaponry, while the persisting lack of clarity raises questions about how effectively these arms are monitored.

Gaps in monitoring, potential for escalation

When pictures surfaced appearing to show U.S.-manufactured Humvees and MRAP armored vehicles used in the Belgorod incursion, the administration initially showed strong skepticism. But after the photographic evidence was vetted by various major media organizations, officials promised to investigate.

"We're looking into those reports that the U.S. equipment and vehicles could have been involved," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

Asked on Thursday about the status of that investigation, a State Department spokesperson said there were no updates to share.

The Ukrainian government has denied playing any part in the first wave of raids on Belgorod, which were carried out by groups made up of anti-Kremlin Russian nationals known as the Free Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, the latter of which has been linked to neo-Nazi sentiments.

On Thursday, the pro-Ukrainian militants appeared to shell towns in Belgorod, prompting a partial evacuation of civilians from the area. While the groups seemed to be heavily armed with sophisticated weaponry, there were no immediate signs that American arms were used in the attacks.

Although U.S. officials have not publicly characterized Ukraine’s role in the incursions, they have repeatedly said that the U.S. does not support attacks on Russian territory.

"We have been very clear with the Ukrainians privately, we certainly have been clear publicly, that we do not support attacks inside Russia," Kirby said on Wednesday, after announcing the latest drawdown of equipment for Ukraine in the White House briefing room. "We certainly don't want to see attacks inside Russia that are, that are being propagated, that are being conducted, using US-supplied equipment."

Kirby said that stance was rooted in the president's goal to "avoid World War III."

"I think we can all agree that a war that escalates beyond that -- that actually does suck in the West and NATO and the United States is not only not good for our national security interest, it is not good for the Ukrainian people," he said.

Beyond close coordination with the Ukrainian government, U.S. officials have touted close monitoring of military aid shipped to Ukraine. But their flip-flopping on the possibility that some of the armored fighting vehicles used in Belgorod could have been supplied to Ukraine by Washington and their inability to provide any conclusions after a week has opened the Biden administration up to criticism.

Republicans have zeroed in on accountability but have largely centered their focus on avoiding waste rather than preventing escalation.

"I do not conduct this oversight to undermine or question the importance of support for Ukraine, but rather -- to the contrary -- oversight should incentivize the administration and Ukraine to use funds from Congress with the highest degree of efficiency and effectiveness," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said at a hearing in late March.

While the Department of Defense's top watchdog testified during that hearing that he had not seen any illicit diversion of the over $20 billion worth of American weapons and other military equipment provided to Ukraine, previous reports have indicated that only around 10% of high-risk munitions have been inspected by U.S. monitors and only a handful of the weapons are legally subject to enhanced end-use tracking.

Defense officials have also noted that carrying out oversight in an active war zone with a very limited American footprint comes with challenges and potential blind spots. Ukraine's history of past corruption has also stoked some unease across Washington.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller was asked last Thursday whether the time that had elapsed in the investigation into the incident raised red flags for the administration regarding the effectiveness of its tracking measures.

"No, I think it raises the fact that we are looking into it and haven't yet reached a conclusion," he responded.

One way that the U.S. tracks sensitive items to Ukraine is by the placement of barcodes on each item that contain unique identifying information, such as serial numbers, and by providing Ukraine with ways to track the equipment it has been given by the U.S.

Ukraine keeps stock of its Humvees and MRAP armored vehicles, and regularly reports battlefield losses to American officials.

ABC News reached out to Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a member of Ukraine's parliament seated on a committee charged with monitoring weapons supplied by foreign governments but did not receive a response.

A shortfall in tracking weapons

Despite the administration's apparent hesitancy to draw firm conclusions, experts closely studying the conflict say some key answers are obvious.

"It is a shortfall in tracking of weapons and munitions," Mark Cancian, a senior adviser for the Center for Strategic and International Studies' International Security Program, said. "War is complicated -- there is no guarantee that weapons will not be used in ways that we don't approve, and this is clearly one of them."

"It would strain credulity to me to think there is not command control here from Kyiv—or at least from Ukrainian military intelligence," said John Hardie, the director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Russia program.

Cancian echoed that conclusion, adding that any disconnects within Ukraine's military could present serious problems.

"It's not impossible that there are fractures within the Ukrainian government. If that's the case, it is quite disturbing -- because that means that the Ukrainians are not in full control of military forces on their territory," he said. "It opens the possibility of what we're seeing in Russia, where you have militias that are acting independently and confronting even in some ways undermining the central government."

Cancian says that repeated incidents of American military gear surfacing in the hands of paramilitary groups would be telling.

"If this happens again, then it's not just happenstance -- it's a pattern. And that would indicate that they have not been able to get control," he said.

Or, Hardie posited, the Biden administration could seek to allow Ukraine to leverage ambiguous attacks on Russia while publicly standing by its policy against such actions.

"Perhaps U.S. officials look the other way," Hardie said.

Beyond Belgorod, apartment buildings in the heart of Russia's capital were the target of a drone strike on Tuesday. Though Ukrainian authorities did not take responsibility, the country's officials have not masked their pleasure.

"If the Russians can make Kyiv a nightmare, why do the people of Moscow rest?" Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said in a televised address following the strike.

While the spike in attacks waged by Ukraine on Russia drastically pales in comparison to those waged on Ukraine by Russia through the course its 15-monthlong invasion, Kyiv has much more to lose in terms of public opinion since its war efforts depend on support from dozens of allies who largely see the country as a besieged victim rather than a tit-for-tat combatant.

Conversely, by bringing the war full circle, strikes into Russia might erode its population's support for the Kremlin -- something some indicators show has already been happening in recent weeks.

So far, the Biden administration appears to be sticking to an increasingly familiar strategy.

"We're still trying to get information here and develop some sort of sense of what happened," Kirby said when asked about the Moscow drone strikes on Wednesday.

ABC's Matthew Seyler and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

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Drag show at Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base canceled by Pentagon

L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal/TNS/Getty Images

(LAS VEGAS) -- The Pentagon informed Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base that a previously approved drag show slated to take place on the base on the first day of Pride Month could not take place because it was not in line with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent comments, according to two defense officials.

The drag performance would have been held at the Officer's Club at southern Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base on Thursday, June 1, and had been approved by base commanders, just as it had been over the previous two years.

Base legal officers and commanders had determined that the event was in line with DOD policy and no department funding would be used for the event, according to the official who spoke to ABC News.

The decision on hosting such shows is typically left in the hands of local commanders who follow guidance from military attorneys, but Nellis officials were told earlier his week by the Defense Department that Thursday's event was not consistent with Austin's recent comments to Congress and that it should be canceled or relocated off base, a defense official told ABC News.

"Consistent with Secretary Austin's congressional testimony, the Air Force will not host drag events at its installations or facilities," said Ann Stefanek, a U.S. Air Force spokesperson. "Commanders have been directed to either cancel or relocate these events to an off-base location."

Military services were informed this week of the clarified guidance that only applies to drag shows held on military bases, another defense official confirmed.

Other LGTBQ+ events scheduled to take place at military bases during Pride Month will not be impacted by the new directive.

"Per DoD Joint Ethics Regulation (JER), certain criteria must be met for persons or organizations acting in non-Federal capacity to use DoD facilities and equipment," Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon's deputy press secretary, said in a statement.

"As Secretary Austin has said, the DOD will not host drag events at U.S. military installations or facilities," said Singh. "Hosting these types of events in federally funded facilities is inconsistent with regulations regarding the use of DoD resources."

Singh explained this is not a change in department policy.

"The Secretary has said DoD will not host drag events at U.S. military installations or facilities, consistent with long-standing policy," she said.

"We are proud to serve alongside any and every young American who takes the oath that puts their life on the line in defense of our country," she added. "Service members and their families are often involved in a host of special interest activities related to their personal hobbies, beliefs, and backgrounds."

The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, blasted the reversal as "sid[ing] with the politics of fear and discrimination peddled by extreme members of Congress."

"For decades, our community has fought for our right to exist without shame or exception, yet [Austin's] decision to ban an event that has happened in prior years reinforces false tropes about LGBTQ+ culture. At a time when we are under attack, the Pentagon is ceding to extremist forces focused on taking away our rights -- leaders responsible for national defense ought to do better. Our people deserve better, the United States military deserves better, and all Americans deserve better," HRC President Kelley Robinson said.

In late March, both Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed reservations about DOD facilities hosting drag shows when questioned about the matter by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

"Drag shows are not something that the Department of Defense supports or funds," Austin said in response to a question from Gaetz.

Milley said he was unaware of the congressman's reference to drag shows taking place at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and Nellis and asked for more information "because I'd like to take a look at those myself actually -- take a look and find out what actually is going on there."

"I'd like to take a look at those because I don't agree with those," he said. "I think those things shouldn't be happening."

Gaetz applauded the cancelation of the planned Nellis drag show.

"HUGE VICTORY: The Department of Defense has CANCELED a scheduled "child-friendly" drag show after I demanded answers from @SecDef Austin and General Milley! Drag shows should not be taking place on military installations with taxpayer dollars PERIOD!" he tweeted Wednesday night.

Austin issued a statement Thursday celebrating the start of Pride Month and the contributions of LGBTQ+ service members.

"As Secretary of Defense, I remain dedicated to making sure that our LGBTQ+ personnel across the Joint Force can continue to serve the country that we all love with dignity and pride—this month and every other one. We thank you for your service—and we thank your spouses and your families, whose support makes your service possible," said Austin.

ABC News' Nate Luna contributed to this report.

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Ron DeSantis' wife joins him on the campaign trail as voters say they want to 'see the man'

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(SALEX, Iowa) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pitches himself as a "fighter" for conservative values. But as he continues his initial presidential campaign swing through three early nominating states, he's working to highlight another side -- as a dad and husband -- as he adjusts to the intimate events often required to persuade primary voters.

At one Wednesday morning event in the western town of Salix, Iowa, DeSantis and his wife, Casey, engaged in a living room-style conversation, swapping anecdotes about their three young kids that sought to give voters a rare glimpse into the home life of Florida's leader, who has generally avoided the mainstream press.

Seated in grey armchairs on a stage inside a vast welding warehouse, where a massive green John Deere served as a backdrop, the couple, each in jeans, told stories that elicited laughs from the audience of roughly 100.

The governor joked that when he and Casey, a former TV reporter, brought two of their children to Japan in April on a trade mission, "We never got on a schedule time wise, so they'd be up at 2 in the morning."

"The one thing I learned is I learned when breakfast room service starts -- because they needed food," he said of his kids.

He then remembered a solo parenting outing, going to visit a new Tallahassee restaurant, and the curveball moment when his 3-year-old daughter needed to use the bathroom.

"So we're literally just in a drive-thru just sitting there. And so she had to go, so I was like, OK I'll take her inside, so we go in and we get in there, and she shakes her head and I'm like, 'What?' And she's like, 'Little potty, little potty.' And I'm like, 'They don't have little potty in Slim Chickens!'" he said.

The chat, designed to emphasize its informality, followed a 30-minute, policy-dense stump speech from the governor bashing bureaucratic Washington and liberal institutions that mimicked his remarks the previous night, at his kickoff event at a large church near Des Moines.

But even in a setting meant to reveal a relatable side of the governor, DeSantis sometimes slipped back into speech mode, touching on his and Casey's efforts to combat the spread of fentanyl and touting his decision to appoint conservative board members to a small Tampa-area college.

The battle over the New College of Florida, with an enrollment of less than 700, reached the pages of certain national news outlets, but it's unclear how much Iowans were aware of the controversy, billed by DeSantis as another of his efforts to fight the "woke."

"So we've got a small liberal arts college in Sarasota called New College. I don't think anyone in this room probably heard of it," said the governor, who admitted to having never known of the institution until being informed of its "ideology."

Dave Christensen, a 58-year-old attendee and a Navy veteran, told ABC News before the event that he was drawn to DeSantis' policy stances and was hoping "to see the man."

"I want to see what's he's like, what his personality is like," Christensen said. "I want to see him talking to me."

As he left the venue, Christensen, who interacted briefly with DeSantis as the governor worked the crowd, seemed satisfied, though he acknowledged he was staying "open-minded" about who to support for the Republican nomination early next year.

"So far, he's answered everything I was kind of after, today anyway. He answered my questions," Christensen told ABC News.

The governor did not replicate the "fireside chat" with Casey at his other three events on Wednesday, opting to spend his time behind a lectern, ceding the stage to his wife for several minutes at each stop to share more about their life as parents.

A spokesperson for the campaign said the Salix event was not the first time the couple has held informal conversations on the trail about their home life, saying they did so before the governor announced his candidacy for president.

The spokesperson did not answer a question about whether the campaign plans to feature similar events in the future. DeSantis campaigning with Casey is not unusual: Candidates include their spouses on the trail in order to show a different side of themselves to the public.

Katie Dodge, 31, a resident of Omaha, Nebraska, who crossed state lines to see the governor speak in Council Bluffs, said she was "all in" on DeSantis, whom she called a "no-nonsense politician" who "just goes in and lets the work that he does show for where he stands and what he's fighting for, and I think that he's fighting for all Americans."

Dodge's mother, Mindy, also a DeSantis supporter, acknowledged there was space for the governor to appear more personable but insisted he offset that quality with his policies and work ethic.

"OK, does he maybe need some more charisma to connect with audiences? Yeah, probably. But you know what he does have? He's a hard worker and he gets things done. And more than anything right now, that's what we need," she said.

Before DeSantis' kickoff rally on Tuesday night in Clive, Alex Greadel, 45, said he had "seen [DeSantis speaking with voters] in some of the video interactions that I've seen online, but that doesn't concern me at all."

Still, the scrutiny continues: In New Hampshire on Thursday, DeSantis was making the round with attendees at one stop when a reporter with the Associated Press asked him why he didn't take questions from voters.

Video shows DeSantis asking the reporter, "What are you talking about?"

"I'm out here [with] people," he said. "Are you blind?"

ABC News' Hannah Demissie contributed to this report.

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Biden falls at US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony

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(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- President Joe Biden took a fall on stage at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in Colorado on Thursday.

Biden, who delivered the commencement address and proceeded to shake hands with graduates, fell near the podium and was quickly assisted by those around him in returning to his feet.

Biden, 80, walked away unassisted once he was upright. He continued to stand and greet people for the remainder of the ceremony.

Biden appeared to trip on a black sandbag, according to pool reporters traveling with the president, and pointed back at it after he got up.

"He's fine. There was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands," Ben LaBolt, the White House communications director, tweeted as videos of the incident circulated online.

Biden didn't take questions as he boarded Air Force One following the hourslong commencement.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also said Biden is "totally fine" while she boarded Air Force One, according to the reporters traveling with Biden.

Biden's age and fitness have been a factor in his reelection campaign. At 80, he is the oldest sitting president in history and would be 86 at the end of second term should he win again in 2024.

Asked about his age after he announced he was running again, Biden said it will be up to voters to judge "whether or not I have it or don't have it."

"I respect them taking a hard look at it -- I'd take a hard look at it, as well. I took a hard look at it before I decided to run, and I feel good. I feel excited about the prospects," he told ABC's Chief White House Correspondent Mary Bruce in April.

Former President Donald Trump, who would also be in his 80s if elected, responded to the fall while campaigning in Iowa.

"I hope he's not hurt. The whole thing is crazy ... even if you have to tip-toe down the ramp," he said, poking fun at his own experience at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2020 when his cautious descent down a ramp opened him up to similar criticism about his age.

"At the Air Force Academy? That's not inspiring," Trump added.

When speaking to graduates, Biden celebrated their work so far as he laid out the challenges that lie ahead.

"We have the finest military in the history of the world," he said. "And you've earned it. This day is the day to celebrate. And as your commander in chief, I'm honored to be here as you take on the duties of serving and defending our nation."

"In the years to come, you'll have even more asked of you," he continued. "You'll take on greater responsibilities, and you'll be challenged even beyond everything you've yet experienced."

ABC News' Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

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The debt ceiling drama shifts to the Senate. Here's what to expect

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(WASHINGTON) -- With just days until a June 5 deadline, the Senate now is racing against time to pass the debt ceiling bill and avoid what would be an economically catastrophic default.

But while Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said work would begin immediately after House passage Wednesday night, it's rare for anything to get resolved quickly in the United States Senate.

"We're getting close to putting this threat of default behind us," Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Wednesday. "But there's still more work, perhaps the most important work, to do: passing it into law."

No room for typical Senate delay

As the drama plays out, there is almost no room for delay if the bill is to get to President Joe Biden's desk by Monday, the day Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned the U.S. could run out of money to be able to pay all its bills on time and in full.

The current goal, aides on both sides of the aisle say, is to pass the measure by late Friday.

In addition to the deadline, it could help that that's also supposed to be the start of a three-day weekend for senators -- and getting out of Washington is a time-honored motivator for faster action.

Schumer: No changes, 'plain and simple'

Threatening to hold up the process, though, is a possible filibuster or time-consuming debate and votes on amendments being sought by various lawmakers, mainly Republicans, but some Democrats, too.

Senators normally are accorded great deference and time to have their say, but when asked Wednesday how many amendment votes he'd allow, Schumer punted. He emphasized the bill can't be changed or else it would need to go back to the House for review.

"We are going to do everything we can to move the bill quickly," Schumer told ABC News. "We cannot send anything back to the House. Plain and simple."

"We must avoid default, we must," he added.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had a similar "time is of the essence" message for his own conference.

"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," McConnell said Wednesday.

Senate GOP leaders see Friday night passage possible

Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D,. told ABC News Wednesday that if Republicans get votes on roughly half a dozen amendments, even GOP opposition won't block swift passage of the deal.

When asked if that could be by Friday night, Thune agreed: "Yeah, I mean, I think it could happen fairly quickly if there's agreement. But we'll get a better sense of where our members are today."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tweeted Wednesday he will "insist on an amendment vote" on his alternative debt ceiling plan that would lift the limit by $500 billion while cutting spending across the board by 5%, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he would try to bring up an amendment to increase the level of defense spending in the bill.

The current Biden-McCarthy deal only allows a 1% increase in defense next fiscal year, which, accounting for inflation, would amount to a cut.

"I think that's the worst part of the deal," McConnell said Wednesday. "The defense buildup -- which we began in December -- peters out and then it's only up slightly but more than domestic. So, I don't think it's as good as I would like, but if you look at the totality of the agreement, I think it should be supported and our defense needs will still be there."

Despite those concerns, there appears to be general agreement on the bottom line: that if the bill is changed by even a single letter, it would have to return to the House and at that point -- both it and the country would face an uncertain fate.

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Investigators have recording of Trump acknowledging he held onto sensitive document: Sources

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(WASHINGTON) -- Federal investigators have in their possession an audio recording of former President Donald Trump from July 2021, on which he acknowledges he held onto a sensitive military document after leaving office, sources confirm to ABC News.

The recording was made during a meeting at Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, that Trump held with people who were helping former chief of staff Mark Meadows with his memoir, according to sources.

Trump indicated during the recording that he knew the document in question was secret, the sources said.

Meadows was not present for the meeting, the sources said, but other Trump aides, including Margot Martin, were there.

Special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating Trump's handling of classified documents after leaving office, has questioned witnesses about the recording, sources familiar with the matter said.

The special counsel's office declined to comment to ABC News.

A Trump spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News, "Leaks from radical partisans behind this political persecution are designed to inflame tensions and continue the media's harassment of President Trump and his supporters. It's just more proof that when it comes to President Trump, there are absolutely no depths to which they will not sink as they pursue their witch hunts."

"The DOJ's continued interference in the presidential election is shameful and this meritless investigation should cease wasting the American taxpayer's money on Democrat political objectives," the Trump spokesperson said.

News of the recording was first reported by CNN.

On the recording, which ABC News has not listened to nor obtained, Trump is heard attacking Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and referencing one document in particular that Trump claimed Milley had compiled, according to sources. Trump, who said on the recording that he still had the document in his possession, said the document was about attacking Iran, sources said.

The specific nature of the document described in the recording is not known.

The July 2021 conversation took place several months before representatives for Trump handed over to the National Archives 15 boxes of presidential records that included documents with classified markings, and more than a year before Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate was searched by the FBI last August.

During the August search, investigators uncovered more than 100 classified documents after Trump's team failed to comply with a June 2022 subpoena seeking all such records that remained in his possession.

It's unclear whether the document allegedly referenced in the recording was among those documents initially handed over to the Archives or those seized by the FBI in the August 2022 search.

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Debt ceiling deal passes the House as US moves closer to preventing historic default

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(WASHINGTON) -- The House on Wednesday night approved a bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling while cutting some government spending over the next two years, in a major victory for both the White House and Republican leaders as the country tip-toes closer to a historic default on its bills.

The final vote was 314-117.

A majority of the GOP conference backed the legislation, with 149 votes, but it was 165 Democrats who helped ensure passage as 71 conservatives ultimately voted no, as did 46 Democrats. Four lawmakers, two Republicans and two Democrats, didn't vote.

The proposal next heads to the Senate, where both Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have said they want to move quickly to approve it -- even as soon as Thursday or Friday.

The deal, brokered between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, would raise the country's $31.4 trillion borrowing limit until January 2025 while setting a broad government budget over the next two years and making some policy changes, such as increasing work requirements on federal food assistance.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has estimated that the government will run out of cash to pay all of its bills by Monday -- the so-called "X-date" for default.

But the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which passed the House on Wednesday includes a two-year government budget in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling through Jan. 1, 2025.

The bill would keep non-defense spending flat in fiscal 2024 and increase levels by 1% in fiscal 2025.

Speaking with reporters after the vote, McCarthy touted what he called Republicans' work in getting the White House to compromise and he highlighted the cuts and savings he said his party had exacted in light of the currently divided federal government.

"I knew the debt ceiling was coming. I wanted to make history. I wanted to do something no other Congress has done, that we would literally turn the ship, that for the first time in quite some time we'd spend less than we spent the year before," he said. "Tonight, we all make history."

"Is it everything I wanted? No," McCarthy said, later adding, "I think we did pretty dang good for the American public."

In a statement of his own, Biden applauded the House for taking a "critical step forward" in passing the agreement and specifically thanked McCarthy "and his team for negotiating in good faith."

"This budget agreement is a bipartisan compromise. Neither side got everything it wanted. That’s the responsibility of governing," he said.

The president said that the deal protects key parts of his agenda, as well as government programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Despite Biden and McCarthy's celebratory tones, their deal had drawn bipartisan criticism, too -- a notable minority of the House.

Some Republicans said the speaker had not gone far enough in getting sweeping spending cuts, similar to a House bill that passed along party lines in April.

And Democrats said Biden had given in to what they likened to economic hostage-taking in agreeing to some spending cuts without holding to his demand that Republicans raise the debt ceiling without preconditions.

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Mike Pence announcing 2024 presidential bid next week in Iowa: Source

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(WASHINGTON) -- Former Vice President Mike Pence will announce next week that he is running for president, giving a kickoff speech in Iowa and releasing a campaign video on June 7 ahead of a town hall with CNN later that day in Des Moines, a source familiar confirms to ABC News.

Pence will be running against his old boss, Donald Trump, in the Republican primary.

His expected announcement will come only weeks after a group of conservative allies launched a political group to support his potential candidacy.

The super PAC, Committed to America, hopes to both "reintroduce" Pence to voters -- who, the group believes, don't have a full sense of the former vice president -- and to catch the attention of voters perhaps stuck on other candidates as the list of Republican hopefuls grows longer.

"People know Mike Pence, they just don't know him well," co-chair Scott Reed told a small group of reporters on Friday. "This campaign is going to reintroduce Mike Pence to the country as his own man, not as vice president, but as a true economic, social and national security conservative -- a Reagan conservative."

The pro-Pence group said it will make significant investments in Iowa, a state critical for Republicans as it holds the first nominating contest next year.

"We're going to organize Iowa, all 99 counties, like we're running him for county sheriff," said Reed, who previously managed Sen. Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign.

In March, during an exclusive interview with ABC News' chief Washington correspondent, Jonathan Karl, Pence said he was giving a run for the 2024 GOP nomination "serious consideration."

At the time and in the ensuing months, Pence has held voter-facing events in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He also published a memoir, "So Help Me God," in November.

"We're getting a lot of encouragement, not only here in Iowa, but all across the country," Pence told Karl in March. "We're giving prayerful consideration to what role we might play."

A key ally for Trump while they were in office, Pence has since had a notable falling out with the former president over Trump's push to overturn their election loss -- climaxing in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, when a mob of Trump supporters breached the complex and sent Pence and Congress into hiding.

"We all face the judgment of history, and I believe in the fullness of time that history will hold Donald Trump accountable for the events of Jan. 6, as it will other people that were involved," Pence told Karl.

He added then: "I also think the American people will also have their say. I mean, the president is now a candidate for office again, he's running for election, but as I go around the country, I'm convinced the American people have learned the lessons of that day."

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Will the debt ceiling deal actually increase SNAP food stamp eligibility, cost?

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(WASHINGTON) -- Work requirements for government safety net programs are back in the spotlight as the House readies for a key vote on the debt ceiling deal brokered by President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

In a twist, a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office released late Tuesday found tougher rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that Republicans demanded would actually increase the number of people eligible for benefits, sometimes referred to as food stamps.

The nonpartisan agency estimated the provisions relating to SNAP would add $2.1 billion in direct spending and 78,000 people would gain benefits in an average month.

Top Republicans are calling the CBO report flat-out inaccurate, and McCarthy suggested the agency "double counted" some recipients already exempt from work requirements.

"The estimates are wrong. They're just wrong," Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., said in a news conference Wednesday alongside his fellow GOP negotiator Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina.

The CBO has not commented on the criticism from Republicans.

House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, on the other hand, said the CBO development "speaks for itself" as he criticized Republicans for making them one of the focal points in the debt ceiling agreement.

"In terms of the so-called work requirements, which by the way have been in law since 1996, this was a phony, fake talking point injected unnecessarily into this discussion," Jeffries said at his own news conference alongside House Democratic leadership.

Imposing stricter eligibility rules for SNAP and other federal assistance programs was a major sticking point that held up negotiations even as talks stretched closer to the potential default date. At one point, McCarthy described their inclusion in a final deal as a "red line" for Republicans.

At the same time, progressive Democrats warned of pushback if stricter work requirements were included. Progressive Whip Greg Casar told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott he was leaning no on Wednesday's vote to approve the bill for that exact reason.

"Many progressives, including me, lean no because the bill does contain taking some folks like 53 and 54 year olds off of their food stamps," Casar, D-Texas, said.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told ABC's Scott that she won't vote yes on the bill because she it's up to Republicans to "own this vote."

"They're the ones trying to come in and cut SNAP," she said. "They're trying to come and cut environmental protections."

Republicans won some changes to SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) but their demand for stricter requirements for recipients of Medicaid and Medicare were taken off the table.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act would increase the age limit for work requirements on able-bodied adults without dependents from 49 to 54 by 2025, though the provision would expire by 2030.

The legislation also includes new exemptions for veterans, people experiencing homelessness and people ages 18 to 24 who are aging out of the foster care system.

Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young said Tuesday the Biden administration was waiting for a USDA analysis on the impact of the SNAP changes, but believed the number of those now exempted would be about the same as those subject to work requirements.

"There's a very real possibility, when we see the numbers, that the number who are phased in, who have new requirements on SNAP, is offset by the number who will now be covered under the new exemptions," she said at the White House press briefing.

McHenry defended the new exemptions in his presser with Graves, calling them "thoughtful public policy" and highlighted the bill would cut down the cap for the population states can exempt from work requirements from 12% to 8%.

But the CBO score only added to the furor to the growing number of House Republicans who are opposed to the debt ceiling deal.

"Don't really want to hear how CBO is wrong on SNAP [because] CBO did this bill a lot of favors, and it's still a bad deal," Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., wrote on Twitter.

"The Biden-McCarthy deal expands welfare," Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., tweeted. "Heckuva negotiation, guys."

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Nikki Haley slams foreign lobbyists while accepting funds from them

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(WASHINGTON) -- Despite calling for a ban on foreign lobbying, in which Americans lobby lawmakers and the public for foreign interests, Republican 2024 presidential hopeful Nikki Haley has raised tens of thousands of dollars in political donations from foreign lobbyists, disclosure reports show.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under the Trump administration, Haley has recently been campaigning on her opposition to foreign lobbying, saying that embassies -- and not private consultants or lobbyist agents -- should represent foreign interests in the U.S.

Banning foreign lobbying has been part of her stump speech against aid to foreign countries, especially money she suggests is going to countries whose interests seem to be at odds with those of the United States.

"The first thing we have to do is stop giving money to countries that hate America," Haley said during a town hall in Iowa in April.

"All these lobbyists that get paid from foreign entities to lobby Congress -- outlaw all foreign lobbying whatsoever," Haley said. "That's what embassies are for."

She then took it to Twitter the next day, writing, "Ban all foreign lobbying."

Later in the month, she told a town hall in New Hampshire, "We will stop lobbyists, foreign lobbyists, in our country. That's what embassies are for. We are not going to allow Americans to lobby for foreign countries. If an ambassador wants something, an ambassador can ask for it, but no more lobbying of Congress for foreign entities."

But Haley's rhetoric hasn't stopped her from raising funds from supporters that are currently or formerly registered agents working for foreign entities. Under United States FARA laws, as part of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, individuals and entities acting as an agent of a foreign client are required to register with the Department of Justice.

One of Haley's top fundraisers, Oswaldo Palomo, the managing director of D.C.-based consulting firm Chartwell Strategy Group, is himself a registered foreign agent.

Palomo so far this year has contributed a total of $6,600 to Haley's joint fundraising committee, which raises money for her presidential campaign and her leadership PAC, Stand for America, according to campaign disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

According to FARA registration records, Palomo represents a number of foreign entities, including the government of Georgia in Eastern Europe, which he had worked for at least since 2018, and the Social Democratic Party of Romania, one of his more recent clients. Each of those clients pays him between $35,000 and $40,000 each month, and he has reported making contacts with hundreds of U.S. lawmakers in the course of his lobbying, FARA filings show.

Palomo also represents the Israeli cyberintelligence firm NSO Group, and the partially state-owned Chinese information technology company iFLYTEK, and has previously also worked for the government of Kosovo.

Palomo's work has brought him hundreds of thousands of dollars from each of his foreign clients over the last six months, according to filings.

Despite Haley's calls for a ban on foreign lobbying, Palomo has been a vocal supporter of the presidential hopeful, often touting her fundraising success.

Like Palomo, David Horton Wilkins, who was U.S. ambassador to Canada under President George W. Bush and is now a registered foreign agent, donated $6,600 to Haley's joint fundraising committee, according to disclosure filings. Previously a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, the longtime Haley ally led her transition team when she was first elected the governor of South Carolina in 2010.

Now a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, Wilkins has been a registered agent for the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia for more than a decade, meeting with numerous members of Congress and representing the provinces' interests over the years, FARA records show.

Another Haley donor, Alexandra Scott Amorosi, whose LinkedIn profile says she worked at the public relations firm Ketchum, is a former registered foreign agent who between 2011 and 2014 represented the Russian Federation, as well as a Russian majority state-owned energy company called Gazprom and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, providing media relations and communications services, according to foreign lobbying records. She has not renewed her foreign agent registration since 2014.

Haley's campaign did not respond to a request for comment by ABC News.

Palomo declined to comment when contacted by ABC News, while Wilkins and Amorosi could not be reached for comment.

Although federal election laws prohibit foreign nationals from making donations to U.S. political campaigns, lobbyists who are U.S. citizens representing foreign interests are allowed to do so, and it's a common practice especially at the federal level.

During the 2020 presidential election cycle, more than $33.5 million in federal political contributions came from foreign lobbyists, including at least $8.5 million from FARA-registered agents, and $25 million from lobbyists who were registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act while representing foreign clients with U.S. subsidiaries, according to FEC disclosure reports.

"It is not uncommon for presidential contenders to make promises rejecting campaign contributions from foreign lobbyists before ultimately accepting them -- though some politicians have refunded money from foreign lobbyists after media backlash," Anna Massoglia, editorial and investigations manager at the nonpartisan research group, told ABC News.

Even if a candidate swears off campaign contributions directly from foreign lobbyists, those lobbyists may route funds to outside groups like nonprofits or super PACs supporting the candidates, Massoglia said.

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Nikki Haley's husband will be deployed to Africa for much of 2024 campaign

Kim Kim Foster-Tobin/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s husband, Michael Haley, is set to deploy in the coming weeks to Africa with the South Carolina Army National Guard, a source familiar confirms to ABC News.

The yearlong deployment would span much of Nikki Haley’s campaign schedule and would be her husband's second active-duty tour overseas since joining the National Guard in 2006. He first served in Afghanistan in 2013.

Details of the assignment were first reported by The Associated Press.

Nikki Haley’s husband has been a continual part of her campaign since it launched in February, attending the kickoff as well as a number of rallies.

“Our family, like every military family, is ready to make personal sacrifices when our loved one answers the call. We could not be prouder of Michael and his military brothers and sisters," Nikki Haley said in an emailed statement to ABC News.

"Their commitment to protecting our freedom is a reminder of how blessed we are to live in America," she said.

Michael Haley, a major in the South Carolina Army National Guard, will remain deployed through spring of 2024.

The pair met in college and married in 1996 and have two adult children, Rena and Nalin.

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House to vote on debt ceiling deal as lawmakers race to prevent default


(WASHINGTON) -- A deal to raise the debt ceiling faces a crucial vote in the House Wednesday night, the next step in averting a potential default now just days away.

The bill, titled the "Fiscal Responsibility Act," cleared its first major hurdle Tuesday when the House Rules Committee advanced the bill in a 7-6 vote.

It is expected to pass the full House when voting is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m., but frustration in both parties has leaders working around the clock to shore up enough support among their members.

"Today we're gonna pass the largest cut in American history. It's just a small step putting us on the right track," a confident House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters as he entered the Capitol Wednesday.

McCarthy added that "everybody has a right to their own opinion but on history, I'd want to be here with this bill today."

The vote will be a major test for the speaker, who faces a potential revolt from conservative hard-liners if he fails to get a majority of his conference (112 Republicans) to back the deal.

As of Wednesday morning, 32 House Republicans and counting said they were against the bill.

"If a majority of Republicans are against a piece of legislation and you use Democrats to pass it, that would immediately be a black letter violation of the deal we had with McCarthy ... and it would likely trigger an immediate motion to vacate," Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said Tuesday on Newsmax.

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-N.C., told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott that McCarthy's "lost some trust in how this has been handled." The speaker brushed off those criticisms Republicans were "outsmarted" by Democrats.

A motion to vacate, under new House rules agreed to by McCarthy during his speakership battle back in January, would allow just one member of Congress to bring up a vote on removing the speaker. A simple majority of the House would be needed to pass such a motion.

Adding another layer to GOP discontentment is a new analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that found the deal would actually increase the number of people eligible for SNAP food assistance, and increase the cost by $2.1 billion.

Work requirements for SNAP and other federal assistance programs were a major sticking point for Republicans in the negotiations between McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

McCarthy said late Tuesday the CBO was "totally wrong" and claimed the agency "double-counted."

Amid the conservative uproar over the bill as cutting far too little, McCarthy announced Wednesday the creation of a bipartisan commission to study the federal budget to look for potential waste to be cut.

On the other side of the aisle, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Tuesday House Democrats "will make sure that the country does not default."

Several progressive Democrats have pushed back against provisions of the bill but two key groups, the 100-member New Democrat Coalition and the 46-member bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, have endorsed the deal ahead of tonight's vote.

If it passes the House, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said his chamber would immediately take it up.

"Once it is the Senate's turn to act, I cannot stress enough that we have no margin -- no margin -- for error," Schumer said in floor remarks Wednesday. "Either we proceed quickly and send this bipartisan agreement to the president's desk or the federal government will default for the first time ever."

A potential roadblock will be if a filibuster materializes, which could delay the process for up to a week.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's given his approval on the bill, calling it a "down payment on more progress that's yet to come."

"When this agreement reaches the Senate, I'll be proud to support it without delay," McConnell said Wednesday.

ABC News' Trish Turner, Will Steakin, Lauren Peller and Noah Minnie contributed to this report.

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Chris Christie to announce 2024 presidential bid next week: Sources

Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

(NEW YORK) -- Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans on announcing a Republican bid for the 2024 presidency next week, sources familiar confirm to ABC News.

Christie will make his announcement at St. Anselm College on June 6 at 6:30 p.m. during a town hall event.

His bid will be shepherded by long-time aides Maria Comella and Mike DuHaime. The news comes a day after Christie allies launched a super PAC to support his candidacy.

The details of the campaign launch were first reported by Axios.

Christie, who also ran in 2016, joins an ever-expanding group of GOP hopefuls who must knock former President Donald Trump out of front-runner status to make real inroads with Republican voters. His soft pitch in the past several weeks -- as he's made the rounds on national media and visits to consequential primary states -- is that he might very well be the only Republican willing and able to bring that force.

"In American politics, if you want to beat somebody, you've got to go get them, and you got to make the case," Christie told a group of New England voters in April. "So what I'm saying tonight, I think, is the beginning of the case against Donald Trump. And that's the first task for Republican primary voters -- decide who we're going to nominate. And if we are willing to put up with that level of policy, and character failure, then we're going to get what we deserve."

Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, radio host Larry Elder and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have formally announced their bids for the Republican nomination.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Congress has days to OK debt limit deal before default: Timeline of what's next

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(WASHINGTON) -- After a critical deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling was announced over the weekend, lawmakers in Washington now face less than a week to pass the bill in both the House and Senate before Monday's predicted deadline for when default would begin.

Unless the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit is increased, the U.S. will run out of cash to pay all of its bills in full and on time -- the so-called "X-date" -- as early as June 5, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Despite the breakthrough on an agreement between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, legislative hurdles remain to get the 99-page debt and spending bill to Biden's desk by next Monday.

The narrow margins in the House and Senate mean both Democratic and Republican moderates will likely have to back the bill.

May 27: Deal announced

Biden and McCarthy, after weeks of back and forth, announced on Saturday that they had reached a deal in principle on a two-year government budget in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling through January 2025.

May 28: Bill text is unveiled

The legislation, named the "Fiscal Responsibility Act," was publicly released on Sunday evening.

That started a 72-hour countdown clock, which is the length of time McCarthy promised to his members to review the legislation before a vote in the House.

Addressing reporters outside his office, the speaker touted what he called efforts to improve transparency and process in Congress -- for the public.

"I'm trying to change the House where it works again," he said.

May 30: House Rules Committee advances bill

Members returned Tuesday from the Memorial Day recess as the debt ceiling deal faced its first major test.

The House Rules Committee, made up of nine Republicans and four Democrats, met Tuesday afternoon to consider the bill.

The key panel, in a narrow 7-6 vote, gave the green light for the Fiscal Responsibility Act to advance to the full House for a floor vote.

May 31: House to vote

The bill is expected be voted on in the House on Wednesday evening.

The number of votes needed to pass the legislation, if all members are present, is 218.

Currently, Republicans hold the House 222-213 and, theoretically, some Democrats would be needed if there are more than four conservative defections.

But lawmakers from the wings of both parties have expressed dissatisfaction with some details of the deal.

Some members of the House Freedom Caucus, who sought more sweeping spending reductions, have said they will try to stop it from passing.

Washington Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Progressive Caucus, likewise on Sunday said congressional leaders should "worry" about garnering enough support from her group given qualms about a compromise with Republicans.

The White House and Republican leadership have been holding calls and briefings to sell the deal, with more meetings planned, ABC News has reported.

McCarthy predicted to ABC's Trish Turner on Sunday that a majority of Republicans will support it. House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said on CBS' Face the Nation he expects that there "will be Democratic support once we have the ability to actually be fully briefed by the White House" but he wouldn't predict what the number of votes would look like.

He also said, "I do hope and expect to see a significant number of House Republicans voting for this agreement. It's my understanding that they are committed to producing at least 150 votes, if not more."

Upon departing the White House Sunday afternoon en route to Delaware, President Biden told ABC News' Elizabeth Schulze that there's "no reason" the debt limit deal shouldn't get done by June 5.

The president also said he's been working the phones speaking to a "number" of legislators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Two congressional Democratic sources described the White House's sell as a “full court press.”)

"I never say I'm confident with the Congress ... but I feel very good about it," Biden said.

May 31 or later: Senate consideration

Assuming the debt ceiling bill passes the House on Wednesday night, the Senate would immediately begin dealing with the legislation, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has told colleagues.

Unanimous consent would allow the chamber to skip debate and quickly hold a vote, but it would take just one lawmaker to hold up proceedings and several have said they want to add amendments.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, previously said he would use every procedural tool available to delay a bill if it didn't have what he called "substantial spending and budgetary reforms." On Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., suggested he would create a similar roadblock because, he argued, the debt agreement was a "catastrophe for defense."

Schumer alluded to the possibility of hang-ups in a "Dear Colleague" letter on Sunday.

"Senators should prepare for potential Friday and weekend votes," he wrote.

If a filibuster materializes, it could delay final passage for as long as a week -- beyond the estimated default deadline of June 5.

A key endorsement for the deal came Sunday from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called on his colleagues to "act swiftly and pass this agreement without unnecessary delay."

"The United States of America will not default on its debt," McConnell said in a statement. "Today's agreement makes urgent progress toward preserving our nation's full faith and credit and a much-needed step toward getting its financial house in order."

June 5: The "X-date"

There's little room for error in Congress in order to pass legislation by next Monday.

The Treasury Department announced last week that its new "X-date" estimate was June 5, providing lawmakers with a bit of extra time to pass a deal. Secretary Yellen had earlier warned the U.S. could run out of money to pay all of its bills as early as June 1.

"Based on the most recent available data, we now estimate that Treasury will have insufficient resources to satisfy the government's obligations if Congress has not raised or suspended the debt limit by June 5," Yellen wrote in a letter to McCarthy on Friday.

Biden said Sunday he thought the legislation would make it to his desk.

"The speaker and I made clear from the start that the only way forward was a bipartisan agreement," he said. "That agreement now goes to the United States House and to the Senate. And I strongly urge both chambers to pass that agreement."

ABC News' Chris Boccia, Katherine Faulders, Gabe Ferris, Amanda Maile, Isabella Murray, Jay O'Brien, Elizabeth Schulze, Rachel Scott and Trish Turner contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Debt ceiling deal to prevent default narrowly passes first big test in key House committee

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(WASHINGTON) -- The debt ceiling deal brokered by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy cleared a major procedural hurdle on Tuesday night, just days before a potential default by the U.S. government.

The House Rules Committee gave the green light for the Fiscal Responsibility Act to advance to the full House so members can hold a planned vote on Wednesday night before sending the legislation to the Senate ahead of Monday’s default deadline.

The panel advanced the bill to the floor for debate in a narrow 7-6 vote.

In a big win for Republican leadership, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky -- a GOP hard-liner and fiscal hawk -- voted in favor of the rule.

"Today's bill is a product of compromise and reflects the realities of a divided government," Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who supported the rule for the proposal, said as he began the meeting.

In his own remarks, Massie said, "My interest in being on this committee was not to imprint my ideology. I think that is an inappropriate use of the committee."

He later told reporters he planned to vote for the deal on the floor.

The other House Freedom Caucus members on the committee, Reps. Chip Roy of Texas and North Carolina's Ralph Norman, vowed to try to block the bill from moving forward and ultimately voted against the rule, along with the four Democratic members.

"Not one Republican should vote for this deal. It is a bad deal," Roy said earlier Tuesday at a House Freedom Caucus press conference.

He also issued a veiled threat that there could be consequences if the deal goes through.

"We will continue to fight today, tomorrow," Roy said. "And no matter what happens, there's going to be a reckoning about what just occurred, unless we stop this bill by tomorrow."

Rep. Scott Perry, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, dodged questions at the news conference on whether he'd support a motion to vacate -- a rule that would allow any House member to force a vote to attempt to remove the speaker.

"I'll let each member speak for themselves. For me, I am focused on defeating this bill. What happens post that, and the agreements we have, we will decide once we determine the disposition of the bill in its finality," Perry said.

McCarthy shrugged off the criticism from those in his party, specifically some who claim the party was "outsmarted" by Democrats.

"How were we outsmarted, the largest cut in the history of Congress, the biggest ability to pull money back?" McCarthy said.

Getting the bill through Congress will hinge on support from moderates in both parties. The White House and Republican leaders have been holding calls and briefings to sell the deal, with more meetings planned, ABC News has reported.

Lawmakers face a time crunch to pass the debt ceiling deal because Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned the "X-date" -- when the government could run out cash to pay all its bills in full and on time -- could happen as early as June 5.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Tuesday Republicans have said they will deliver 150 votes from their party, and "House Democrats will make sure that the country does not default."

The New Democrat Coalition, made up of roughly 100 House Democrats, has endorsed the debt ceiling deal.

Asked about the vote tallies, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young (a key negotiator in the debt talks) stopped short of declaring victory, telling reporters she'd leave that to Congress.

"All I know is when you enter into good faith negotiations, you don't negotiate to see a bill posted," she said at the daily White House briefing. "You negotiate to make sure it gets to the president's desk and we'll fulfill our part when it gets to the president's desk."

The Fiscal Responsibility Act includes a two-year government budget in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling through Jan. 1, 2025. The bill would keep non-defense spending flat in fiscal 2024 and increase levels by 1% in fiscal 2025.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday night released its score -- or fiscal analysis -- of the debt ceiling deal, estimating that it would reduce the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

The interest on the public debt in that time period would also decline by $188 billion, according to the CBO.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said his chamber will take up the bill as soon as it passes the House. He advised his colleagues to prepare for possible Friday and weekend votes if there's not unanimous cooperation.

If there's a filibuster, it could push the chamber past the June 5 default deadline. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, previously threatened to "use every procedural tool at my disposal to impede a debt-ceiling deal" he didn't agree with.

Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a rare moment of unity, both praised the debt limit deal in floor remarks on Tuesday.

"I support the bipartisan agreement that President Biden has produced with Speaker McCarthy. Avoiding default is an absolute imperative," Schumer said.

McConnell said while no one got everything they wanted, "the American people got a whole lot more progress towards fiscal sanity than Washington Democrats wanted to give them. Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans deserve our thanks."

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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