The decade's most triggering comedy
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) spoke against President Joe Biden compromising with Republicans on spending caps and a debt ceiling increase, contending that the move would cause backlash among lawmakers and the broader public.
The debt ceiling, a statute established by Congress that prevents the government from spending beyond a predetermined national debt limit of $31.4 trillion, exceeded the threshold earlier this year. Republicans desire to join an increase in the debt ceiling with spending caps, while Democrats say they prefer separate processes for debt limit negotiations and budget reforms, a debate which occurs even as the government nears default in as little as two weeks.
Jayapal said in an interview with CNN outside of the Capitol Building that an agreement which involves spending caps would undo the policy successes which Biden secured during his administration. “I think there would be a huge backlash from our entire House Democratic caucus, certainly the progressives, but also in the streets,” she told the outlet. “It’s important that we don’t take steps back from the very strong agenda that the president himself shepherded and led over the past two years.”
Users on social media accused Jayapal of calling for protests over the potential spending reforms, although the lawmaker did not appear to explicitly support violent behavior.
Ocasio-Cortez likewise affirmed that a deal which involves spending reforms or increased work requirements for federal welfare would be unacceptable. “It’s going to be a problem,” she added. “We do not legislate through the debt ceiling for this very reason.”
The comments from the lawmakers come one day after Biden met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to continue negotiations over the debt limit. McCarthy asked fellow Republicans in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday to “hang with me on the debt limit” since he and the commander-in-chief are “nowhere near a deal yet” with respect to spending.
“I told the president three things: no clean debt limit, no raising taxes, spend less money,” McCarthy said in the meeting, according to multiple reports. The lawmaker showed his colleagues a video with a timeline of various Democrats refusing to negotiate on the debt limit. “They made a mistake to not negotiate. Let’s stay strong together.”
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of conservative lawmakers, reiterated last week that they will refuse to vote for any increase or suspension of the debt ceiling without meaningful spending caps, a framework which has been officially enacted in the House with the approval of the Limit, Save, Grow Act. McCarthy cannot pass legislation without support from the House Freedom Caucus due to the narrow Republican majority.
Beyond the risk of a financial crisis induced by neglecting to increase the debt ceiling, the national debt now surpasses $31.7 trillion and serves as a continual damper on economic growth. Elevated interest rates have recently weighed on the budget as lawmakers are forced to devote more revenues toward servicing the obligations rather than funding programs.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly cautioned that the government could exhaust funds by the first day of June, while one report from the Congressional Budget Office warned that there exists considerable “uncertainty” with respect to funds throughout the remainder of May.