“The debt ceiling deal, which narrowly avoided a federal default, has ignited fierce debate and controversy ahead of the 2024 Senate contest,” exclaimed Rep. Colin Allred, accusing Sen. Ted Cruz of voting in favor of a measure that would “plunge our economy into recession.”
Expressing his discontent, Cruz labeled the deal a “disaster” and claimed it did not adequately address the issue of excessive spending. Like his conservative counterparts, he saw the impending debt crisis as an opportunity for leveraging political power.
In a tweet on Friday morning, Cruz criticized the Senate Republican leadership, stating, “Every time there’s a fight over the debt ceiling or federal spending, Senate Republican leadership does what the Democrats want 100 out of 100 times.”
Texans in Congress were deeply divided over the agreement reached by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden to increase the government’s debt limit by an additional $4 trillion. Opposition to the deal emerged from both sides of the political spectrum.
Sen. John Cornyn, a prominent figure among Republicans, initially expressed concerns about defense spending but eventually voted in favor of the deal on Thursday night. Meanwhile, in the House, the Texas delegation’s vote resulted in a close split of 20 in favor and 18 against.
Among the Republicans, 14 out of 25 opposed the deal, along with four out of 13 Democrats. Rep. Allred, a three-term Democrat from Dallas who aims to unseat Cruz in the upcoming election, criticized Cruz for prioritizing his divisive ideology over the best interests of Texans and impeding progress.
While Allred’s campaign statement highlighted the bipartisan nature of the compromise bill, emphasizing its benefits for veterans, the economy, and the country’s forward momentum, it failed to acknowledge that four Texas Democrats, including Rep. Jasmine Crockett from Dallas, voted similarly to Cruz.
Other Democrats who voted against the deal were Reps. Sylvia Garcia from Houston, Joaquin Castro from San Antonio, and Greg Casar from Austin. Crockett criticized Speaker McCarthy for allowing the extremist anti-governing faction within his party to hold the American economy hostage during the debt ceiling debate.
Crockett expressed her reservations about the deal due to the additional work requirements imposed on food stamp recipients and the reallocation of unspent COVID-19 recovery funds from schools and hospitals. The final House vote resulted in a 314-117 margin in favor.
Rep. Chip Roy, a former chief of staff to Cruz and current representative from Austin, led the conservative opposition, viewing the standoff as an opportunity to reduce government spending. While acknowledging their defeat, Roy emphasized that every fight gives hope to ordinary Americans who feel unheard by the political establishment.
In the Senate, the final vote on Thursday night was 63-36, with most of the “no” votes coming from Republicans. A few liberal members also voted against the deal, echoing concerns raised by other left-leaning individuals. Cruz acknowledged some positive aspects of the deal, such as the clawback of COVID-19 funds that troubled Rep. Crockett and her fellow Democrats.
However, he criticized the agreement for entrenching excessive spending levels that contribute to inflation and the country’s current fiscal irresponsibility. Cruz voiced his concerns about the inclusion of funding for 87,000 new IRS agents and numerous pork-barrel projects that would increase spending by nearly $4 trillion.
In response, Allred challenged Cruz’s assertions, pointing out several incorrect or debunked claims. Contrary to Cruz’s statement, inflation currently stands at around 5%, far from any U.S. records. The highest inflation during the Biden era occurred last July at 9%, still considerably lower than the levels observed during World War I, World War II, or prior to Ronald Reagan’s presidency in 1980.
Regarding the “87,000 new IRS agents,” a widely debunked GOP talking point, the tax agency currently employs only 79,000 individuals, with just 10,000 revenue agents responsible for audits. The IRS budget increase approved last summer focused on enforcement, modernization, and improved customer service.
The debt ceiling deal, though bipartisan, faced opposition from both sides of the political spectrum. Among the Dallas-area representatives, Reps. Pat Fallon, Lance Gooden, Keith Self, and Beth Van Duyne voted against the deal. Other Republicans who opposed it included Reps. John Carter, Michael Cloud, Tony Gonzales, Wesley Hunt, Pete Sessions, Ronny Jackson, Morgan Luttrell, Nathan Moran, and Randy Weber.
Cornyn vehemently criticized the deal in a floor speech shortly before the Senate vote. He argued that the Senate had been marginalized in the negotiations between McCarthy and the White House, despite Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refraining from involvement to allow McCarthy to rally enough House Republicans.
The Senate rejected several amendments proposed by Cornyn that aimed to address his concerns about defense spending. Implementing any changes would have delayed the deal’s finalization and presentation to the president. Time was running out as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen exhausted her options to prevent a default that could have occurred on Monday—a situation the government has never before encountered.
Economists from various ideological backgrounds cautioned against the catastrophic consequences of a default. Such an event would undermine trust in the dollar and raise borrowing costs for the government, consumers, and businesses. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Austin, acknowledged the need to protect the country’s full faith and credit but criticized the Republican provisions in the agreement while highlighting the catastrophic outcome of defaulting, as recently suggested by former President Trump.