With the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 passed just days before the United States defaulted on its debt obligations, the American people are now surveying the aftermath of a months-long political battle in Washington. Here’s an overview of where voters and politicians agreed and disagreed on the debt ceiling package.
Where They Disagreed
Half of Americans believe neither side “won” the negotiations — an Ipsos (Center) poll found 50% of Americans think “neither Republicans nor Democrats were winners in the debt ceiling fight.” Only 38% of Americans were satisfied with the deal, while 37% were neither satisfied or dissatisfied, and 25% were unsatisfied. Despite bipartisan compromise on the bill, Americans do not feel like they are winning, neither did many on Capitol Hill.
A sentiment shared across the political divide on Capitol Hill was that both parties sacrificed too much in the name of a compromise. Notable members of both parties voted no on the bill, including members of the House Freedom Caucus, which released a statement saying, “It’s a disappointment across the board.” More specifically, caucus member Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) tweeted, “Regrettably, the deal just does not go far enough to put America back on track,” despite saying he respected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his team for negotiating amid the circumstances.
On Democrats’ end, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) opposed the deal because it extended the age range forwork requirements on low-income people who receive SNAP food assistance, from age 50 to 54. She also opposed the deal for its streamlined approval of the 6.6 billion dollar Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline, a key goal for West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) also voted “no” because of the pipeline.
Where They Agreed
Despite the close deadline and brinkmanship on Capitol Hill, our fragmented political system came together for a bipartisan compromise to put a bill on the table that was signed into law. In a televised address from the Oval Office, President Joe Biden lauded the bipartisan agreement, saying, “I was told the days of bipartisanship were over and that Democrats and Republicans could no longer work together.” Biden gave credit to Speaker McCarthy (R-CA), adding, “We were straightforward with one another, completely honest with one another, and respectful with one another. Both sides operated in good faith. Both sides kept their word.”
Former Trump advisor and economist Kevin Hassett claimed both Biden and McCarthy won at the end of the day: “For President Biden, as he heads into the general, I think Americans are desperate for a candidate that can work well with others that isn’t so extreme…Having a moderate compromise bill that’s supported by Republicans and Democrats will help Biden tell the story that he’s the guy who can work with the other side.” He added a “whole bunch of wins” are included in the deal for the GOP, including increased requirements for government assistance (under the SNAP program) and spending reductions.
Why it Matters
There are many reasons one could be frustrated by The Fiscal Responsibility Act — whether you believe one party sacrificed something important to get it passed, or you are just frustrated the U.S. came so close to defaulting before passing the bill. However, the eventual achievement of a deal is something to celebrate.
When the news is constantly covering the infighting on Capitol Hill, it can be easy to believe the two parties could never work together — and that they can hardly keep their own members together. But the debt ceiling deal proves Congress can still come together when it matters. The U.S. got incredibly close to defaulting — but we didn’t — because bipartisanship still exists, and neither side’s leaders wanted our country to be in crisis if they had the power to stop it.
Carsen Brunn is the Bridging and Content Intern at AllSides. He has a Center Bias.