Biden Holds Line on Talks, but Cracks Are Emerging

Some House Democrats ask him to sit down with Kevin McCarthy on debt ceiling
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2023 8:33 AM CDT
Biden Holds Line on Talks, but Cracks Are Emerging
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Treasury Department will soon issue updated guidance on how long the US can keep operating before it defaults on its debt, a development that would be both unprecedented and potentially catastrophic, reports the Wall Street Journal. In the meantime, Axios notes that a divide is growing within the Democratic Party on a fundamental issue: whether the White House should negotiate with Republicans on a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Politico, too, reports that a "growing number of House Democrats" are on board with the idea of negotiating. At least a dozen have said so publicly. For now, however, President Biden and top party leaders remain adamant: They insist Congress should raise the debt ceiling—allowing the US to borrow more money to pay its debts—with no strings attached.

"It is time to end the partisan standoff and brinkmanship before it rattles markets, damages our economy, and hurts the American people," wrote Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Mary Peltola of Alaska in a letter to Biden advocating talks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Last week, McCarthy won passage of a measure that demands steep cuts in Democrat-backed programs in exchange for raising the ceiling. In the Senate, meanwhile, Joe Manchin is currently the only Democrat backing talks. "The debt limit is non-negotiable," is how Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana put it to the Washington Post.

All of which adds up to this sobering headline in an analysis by Paul Kane, also in the Washington Post: "Defaulting on the national debt is much closer than anyone realizes." The topic came up in the Sunday talks shows over the weekend, with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise going after Biden for refusing to sit down with McCarthy. "It’s time now for the president to get in this game, get off the sidelines, and let’s start negotiating and figuring this out—not in June when we get into the midnight hour, but today," he said. Last week, Biden said he'd be happy to meet with McCarthy but reiterated that debt-ceiling talks would be off the table. (More debt ceiling stories.)

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