U.S. Rep. Richard Neal calls debt limit deal ‘modest victory for both sides’, predicts favorable Wall Street reaction

SPRINGFIELD — House Democrats — 165 of them — voted this week on the compromise debt ceiling deal.

But not, U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal pointed out, until a certain number of House Republicans had voted for it first.

“We would put up the votes when we saw that they had put up the votes,” Neal, D-Springfield, said meeting with reporters Friday morning.

It was a bit of gamesmanship in part meant to ensure House Speaker Kevin McCarthy really did have the votes from his fractious four-vote majority to get the measure passed.

In the end, the vote was 314 to 117 with more Democrats voting yes than Republicans.

Neal discussed the deal Friday on a visit to the Social Security office in Springfield.

Neal managed the House floor for the debate Wednesday night and called it a pretty good deal.

“We stuck to a couple of positions, particularly in the Democratic caucus, including the fact that there would be no end zone dance afterwards,” he said. “If we pointed out that we won everything we wanted, that would push the Republicans away. The truth is this is a modest victory for both sides.”

Neal predicted that markets will rise in the wake of the deal. He also praised news Friday of robust job growth.

“Had President (Joe) Biden not secured an agreement to prevent Republicans from forcing a devastating default, today’s outlook would be completely different. With 339,000 jobs created in May, our hard-earned and historic economic recovery is unphased by Republicans’ best attempts to sabotage it,” Neal said in a statement.

The debt-ceiling bill passed the Senate Thursday night with Massachusetts Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren two of the four Democrats voting “no.”

” It’s despicable that the GOP held our economy hostage,” Markey wrote on Twitter before making a reference to part of the deal that speeds up environmental reviews of infrastructure projects. “I could not vote for legislation that put pipelines over lifelines.”

In the House, U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, voted no, citing the impact on programs protecting the most vulnerable.

Neal said he understands the criticism, particularly of GOP-backed work requirements he said are unrealistic.

Defense spending under the deal is limited to $886 billion in 2024.

Republicans will argue next year that there is not enough military spending,” Neal said. “That is very different than what they argued two nights ago. And we are ready for that.”

And the deal doesn’t impact infrastructure projects in the Pioneer Valley or anyplace else. Neal said the infrastructure bill, the science-funding CHIPS bill and the American Rescue Plan all emerged intact.

“Every signature legislative achievement of Joe Biden was not compromised in these negotiations,” Neal said.

He praised Biden’s negotiating, saying the president, who was expected to sign the bill into law Friday evening, resisted the urge to put himself out front in a confrontational stance.