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In this file photo, from right to left, U.S. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep.-elect Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), and Rep.-elect Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) talk in the House Chamber during the fourth day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Republican leaders during a closed-door meeting Tuesday shared more details of the secret agreements Speaker Kevin McCarthy made with conservative lawmakers last week to secure the votes he needed to hold the gavel.

The so-called handshake deal, displayed on slides during the GOP weekly conference meeting, if adhered to could have significant ramifications for federal departments and agencies as well as the global economy. Democrats on Tuesday in reaction slammed the agreement as potentially leading to a partial government shutdown, an economic crisis or both.

According to a slide on government spending and the debt limit shown during the GOP meeting, disclosed by CNN, the McCarthy deal places limits on when and how the GOP House will take up the annual government funding bills, needed to avoid a partial government shutdown.

The agreement also attaches strings to legislation that would raise or suspend the debt limit, required to avoid a first-ever default on the country’s debt later this year.

The agreement will make it much more difficult for House Republicans to broker a deal with the Democratic Senate and Biden administration on both spending and the debt limit.

The slide said House Republicans would:

  • Adopt a fiscal 2024 budget resolution balancing  the budget within 10 years. Fiscal 2024 begins on Oct. 1.
  • Pursue “reforms to” the budget process and mandatory spending programs. Such programs include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Cap fiscal 2024 discretionary spending at enacted fiscal 2022 levels or lower.
  • Only pass spending bills that comply with the budget resolution and pass all 12 regular spending bills on time. Congress has not been able to do that since 1996.
  • Pass any stopgap spending bill, or continuing resolution, before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
  • Reject any negotiations with the Senate unless that chamber’s 12 spending bills are passed, the bills comply with the House budget resolution, and they reduce non-defense discretionary spending.
  • Not agree to a debt limit increase without a budget agreement or “commensurate fiscal reforms.”

Republican plans to pass a CR, or continuing resolution, before Sept. 30 indicate the party doesn’t expect to wrap up the fiscal 2024 government funding process by the start of the next fiscal year on Oct. 1.

‘An honest conversation’

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said during a press conference Tuesday that McCarthy did disclose parameters of the handshake deal during the closed-door GOP meeting.

The Louisiana Republican argued that Republicans should force spending cuts in order to raise the debt limit, which pays for spending already approved by Congress. Read more