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Negotiators with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the White House have yet to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, though the speaker said on Friday that the two sides had made some progress. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had set a deadline of June 1 to strike a deal before mandatory spending cuts would take effect, but she extended that deadline to June 6 on Friday, giving negotiators a few more days of breathing room.
The White House appears to be failing to make its case to Americans, giving McCarthy an edge in negotiations. A recent Fox News poll of registered voters showed that 47% would blame the president if debt ceiling talks derailed compared to 44% who would blame the GOP. A recent CNN poll found that 60% of Americans believed cuts to spending should be part of a debt ceiling deal.
Democrats are pushing Biden to be more aggressive about making the White House’s case to the public.
“It’s time to bring the president off the bench, or bring somebody off the bench. No one’s responding to anything. Kevin’s consistently on message,” one House Democrat, speaking anonymously, told POLITICO. “We have the Oval Office. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Connecticut Democrat Rep. Rosa DeLauro said Biden has lost the messaging battle to McCarthy. “The scale of the cuts is staggering, which really the public knows very little about,” she told POLITICO of the Republican bill. “The president should be out there.”
The GOP bill passed last month in the House would cap discretionary spending at 2022 levels and limit spending increases to 1% a year for the next decade.
Biden is also facing backlash from progressives who say the president should not be involved in negotiations at all. A group of progressive lawmakers are pushing the president to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling using the 14th Amendment, a legally dubious strategy that would almost certainly face a court challenge.
“I’m very frustrated. You know, I called on the president to invoke the 14th Amendment and mint a coin and do not negotiate with hostage takers,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) told CNN on Thursday. “I mean, we don’t negotiate with terrorists globally. Why are we going to negotiate with the economic terrorists here that are the Republican Party?”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the Progressive Caucus chair, said a “bad deal” cut with Republicans could impact Biden’s reelection chances.
“The president — I’m sure he’s thinking about the fact that it was a very vibrant, diverse coalition that put them in the White House, and he’s going to need that vibrant, diverse coalition again for 2024,” she said.