Democrats harden their message on the debt ceiling while quietly paving the way for a deal

US Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to the press as US Home Minority Chief Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) (L) listens, after assembly with US President Joe Biden on the White Home in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2023.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Photos

WASHINGTON — Democrats responded to the information that the U.S. might default on its debt as early as June 1 by hardening their public positions, accusing Republicans of holding the nation’s financial welfare hostage to calls for for federal finances cuts.

However behind the scenes, President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer and Home Democratic Chief Hakeem Jeffries have all taken steps prior to now day that would pave the way in which for an eleventh hour take care of a small group of Republicans to avert a default, by elevating or suspending the nation’s debt restrict.

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The strikes underscore a rising disconnect between the political rhetoric of the debt ceiling debate and the non-public actuality of a probably catastrophic U.S. default that now seems nearer than it did simply 24 hours in the past.

The White Home insisted Tuesday that Biden won’t use a gathering he arrange with congressional leaders for Could 9 to barter over the debt ceiling. “He’ll make it very clear how it’s Congress’s constitutional responsibility to behave,” mentioned White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “He isn’t going to barter on the debt ceiling, that isn’t going to vary.”

However the actual fact that Biden is assembly with Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy in any respect, nevertheless, alerts a big change. It comes after months of Biden and the White Home demanding that McCarthy produce a Republican finances and comply with take debt default off the desk, neither of which the speaker has accomplished.

Schumer’s maneuvers

Within the Senate, the place Democrats have the bulk, Schumer ripped a invoice Home Republicans handed final week. The measure would increase the debt ceiling in trade for large cuts to discretionary federal spending. It squeezed by the slim GOP-majority Home regardless of opposition from each Democrat and 4 Republicans.

Schumer mentioned the Republican invoice “would tear on the cloth of American society, impose dramatic cuts to our public safety and minimize regulation enforcement dramatically at a time once we need assistance from them.” He argued that it will outcome within the “abandonment of veterans [and] horrible job losses.”

But moments earlier than Schumer delivered his scathing condemnation of the Home GOP invoice, he entered that very same invoice onto the Senate calendar beneath a particular rule that permits it to bypass the Senate committee course of and transfer proper to the ground for consideration.

Schumer additionally moved a separate piece of laws to the ground – a Democratic invoice to droop the debt restrict by Dec. 31, 2024.

There are two methods for Congress to keep away from a looming debt default: The primary is by voting to boost the statutory debt restrict, at the moment set at $31.4 trillion. The second is by voting to droop the restrict for a set period of time, primarily stopping the clock on default.

For Home and Senate Republicans who’ve promised constituents they won’t vote to boost the debt restrict with out first securing main concessions from Democrats on spending, the choice of voting to droop the debt restrict might provide them some room to maneuver with out breaking their pledge to voters.

Later within the day, Schumer informed reporters that after the Senate handed a so-called “clear” debt ceiling suspension invoice, “then we might use [the Home GOP invoice) for a correct dialogue of the appropriations and finances course of.”

Jeffries and McConnell weigh in

As Democrats explored their choices, Republicans have been largely muted on Tuesday. When Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell spoke on the Senate ground instantly after Schumer, he didn’t point out the debt ceiling.

He later insisted that any negotiations should happen between McCarthy and Biden. “The final word answer will likely be between the Republican Home and the president, and the earlier the president and the speaker get about it, the higher off the nation will likely be,” McConnell informed reporters at a press briefing.

Speaker of the Home Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks on the the New York Inventory Trade (NYSE) in New York Metropolis, U.S., April 17, 2023. 

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

On the Home facet, plans have been additionally in movement Tuesday to start work on a manner for Democrats to maneuver a invoice to boost the debt restrict to the ground with out the help of GOP majority management utilizing a legislative car referred to as a discharge petition.

Particularly, Jeffries mentioned in a letter to his Democratic colleagues that Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., “simply filed a particular rule that might permit for Flooring consideration of a bipartisan measure to keep away from a harmful default.”

“The submitting of a debt ceiling measure to be introduced up on the discharge calendar preserves an vital choice,” wrote Jeffries.

A Democratic discharge petition would nonetheless face main hurdles, beginning with problem of convincing at the least a half dozen Home Republicans to desert to dramatically cross the aisle to vote for a Democratic invoice. If it have been to move the Home, any invoice would then face the 60-vote filibuster threshold within the Senate.

Senate math will likely be additional sophisticated by the continued absence of California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who has been away from Washington since February on a medical absence, with no speedy plans to return.

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