House Republicans and the White House were at an impasse over conflicting proposals for raising the nation’s debt ceiling, with the Biden administration firmly stating its opposition to the spending cuts advocated by the GOP.
This week, however, President Joe Biden appears to have backed off from his demand for a so-called “clean” debt limit hike, agreeing to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) next week to negotiate a path forward.
According to reports, McCarthy was in Israel on Monday when the president called to confirm his change of heart. The two men are expected to meet on Tuesday to reach a deal that will forestall default.
Just days earlier, however, White House sources remained adamant that Biden had no interest in negotiating.
As White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday: “We are not negotiating on this. We have been very clear on this.”
Those remarks came just one day after House Republicans passed a bill that would cut spending in exchange for a debt ceiling increase.
Jean-Pierre later described the bill as “a recipe for economic disaster” and admonished Republican lawmakers for supposedly shirking their responsibility.
“They need to do their job,” she said. “Congress must act. It is their constitutional duty.”
It was just hours after Jean-Pierre offered that assessment on Monday that the president reached out to McCarthy.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have signaled that they have no intentions of backing off from their demands for a debt limit hike without any conditions.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a joint statement asserting that lawmakers “do not have the luxury of waiting until June 1 to come together [and] pass a clean bill to avoid default,” calling out the GOP for allowing “right-wing extremism to hold our nation hostage.”
Republicans have pulled the heavy weight drafting debt ceiling legislation. All we need from Democrats is a reasonable voice at a negotiation table but those seem to be hard to find.
— Rep Ryan Zinke (@RepRyanZinke) May 1, 2023
Other Democratic legislators are less emphatic, though. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said he would withhold judgment on a potential deal between Biden and House GOP leaders until he sees “what the president can come up with.”
On the other side of the aisle, some Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief.
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) reacted positively to the news about next week’s meeting, noting: “That’s a lot farther along than we were a week ago. So, probably some good news for everybody today.”