The decade's most triggering comedy
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blasted President Joe Biden after congressional leadership discussed a potential debt ceiling increase on Tuesday, a meeting which came after more than three months of refusal from the White House to negotiate.
The debt ceiling, a policy established by Congress that prevents the federal government from spending beyond a predetermined national debt limit of $31.4 trillion, surpassed the threshold earlier this year. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned last week that the nation could face a default as soon as the first day of June unless the debt limit is suspended or increased.
White House officials have repeatedly asserted that Republican lawmakers are risking a recession by insisting that any amendment to the debt ceiling should be accompanied by meaningful spending cuts or limits upon future expenditures. Biden and McCarthy continued the negotiations launched in February with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
McCarthy delivered a scathing statement to reporters about the outcome of the negotiation, saying that he “did not find progress” in the discussions with Biden and revealing that congressional leadership will resume talks on Friday.
“President Biden has played political games and ignored the obvious glaring issue ahead of him,” McCarthy commented in the readout. “Now, our nation is at the precipice of defaulting for the first time in history. The House passed a plan that would responsibly raise the debt ceiling, meaning Republicans have done our part. The House Republican plan limits government spending, saves taxpayer money, grows the economy, and simply authorizes spending levels that the United States was operating off of five months ago. It’s time for President Biden to come to the negotiating table or risk bumbling into default.”
Biden, on the other hand, said in a statement that he found the meeting “productive” and countered that he had offered to negotiate once Republicans unveiled their budget framework, a move which did not occur until last month.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of conservatives without which McCarthy is unable to pass legislation due to the narrow Republican majority in the House, have said they would vote to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for a framework that returns expenditures to fiscal year 2022 levels, increase the debt limit only for the next year, and cap annual spending growth at 1% over the next decade. The budget proposal unveiled by McCarthy mirrored the framework and successfully passed through the House two weeks ago.
“The only thing we’re asking is that next year we spend the same amount of money we spent five months ago,” McCarthy added in his remarks, noting that the debt ceiling talks were the first time all four congressional leaders have met with Biden since the new Congress started earlier this year. “Unfortunately in this meeting I heard nothing new.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week that “the only practical path to avoid default is for Congress to suspend the debt limit without conditions” because of the “limited time” before the potential default. Other senior lawmakers, including House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-PA), have noted that time is only limited because of the failure to negotiate a compromise on spending and budget priorities, while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) previously described the situation as “a deficiency of leadership” from Biden.