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On his final day in Congress, Cicilline expects to vote on debt ceiling deal

On the Rhode Island Report podcast, the Rhode Island Democrat said he is “leaning toward a yes” vote on the agreement struck between President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy

US Representative David N. Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, speaks during the recording of the Rhode Island Report podcast at his Providence home as producer Megan Hall holds a microphone.Carlos Muñoz

PROVIDENCE — On his final day in Congress, US Representative David N. Cicilline plans to be in Washington, D.C., to vote on the debt ceiling and budget cuts package.

“My expectation is that it will pass with support from both Republicans and Democrats,” Cicilline said on the Rhode Island Report podcast Tuesday. “The Freedom Caucus has already come out against it. I know some of my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus have come out against it, but my sense of it, at least at this point, is that there will be enough votes to pass it in the House and get it to the Senate.”


Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who is stepping down to become president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, said he is “leaning toward a yes” vote on the deal struck between Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“It doesn’t have everything we wanted,” he said. “But the president protected a lot of important priorities — Medicare, Medicaid, debt relief for students, the investments in the Inflation Reduction Act. So a lot of important victories. There are some things that obviously are not terrific, but it’s a compromise. And we we cannot allow the government to default on its obligations.”

Cicilline said he has always believed that Biden has the authority under the 14th Amendment to honor the debt obligations of the United States.

“When the president sort of took that off the table, or at least suggested he wasn’t comfortable doing it, I think it did strengthen the hand of McCarthy some,” he said. “But this is a negotiation.”

And he said the results of a default would be catastrophic.

“When you think about the harm to Rhode Islanders and to working families,” he said. “A default would mean higher mortgage payments, higher car payments, much higher unemployment, devastating impact on people’s retirement, people not getting paid. I mean, it would have really maybe forced us into a recession.”


Biden negotiated the best deal he could, Cicilline said. “And we have to win the next election if we want to change that,” he said.

Cicilline delivered his final speech on the House floor last week, and he begins working at the Rhode Island Foundation on Thursday.

On the podcast, he discussed the reasons why is he stepping down after 12 years in Congress, and his plans for his new job leading the state’s largest philanthropic organization.

Cicilline also talked about why he opened Clementine, a cocktail bar in downtown Providence. And he named his favorite — and least favorite — members of Congress.

To get the latest episode each week, follow Rhode Island Report podcast on Apple Podcasts and other podcasting platforms, or listen in the player above.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.