United States Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks with journalism as United States House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) (L) listens, after consulting with United States President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds|AFP|Getty Images
WASHINGTON–Democrats reacted to the news that the U.S. might default on its financial obligation as early as June 1 by solidifying their public positions, implicating Republicans of holding the country’s financial well-being captive to needs for federal spending plan cuts.
But behind the scenes, President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries have actually all taken actions in the previous day that might lead the way for an 11 th hour handle a little group of Republicans to prevent a default, by raising or suspending the country’s financial obligation limitation.
The moves highlight a growing detach in between the political rhetoric of the financial obligation ceiling dispute and the personal truth of a possibly disastrous U.S. default that now appears closer than it did simply 24 hours earlier.
The White House firmly insisted Tuesday that Biden will not utilize a conference he established with congressional leaders for May 9 to work out over the financial obligation ceiling. “He’s going to make it very clear how it is Congress’s constitutional duty to act,” stated White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre “He is not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling, that is not going to change.”
But the extremely reality that Biden is consulting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at all, nevertheless, indicates a considerable modification. It follows months of Biden and the White House requiring that McCarthy produce a Republican spending plan and consent to take financial obligation default off the table, neither of which the speaker has actually done.
In the Senate, where Democrats have the bulk, Schumer ripped a costs House Republicans passed recently. The step would raise the financial obligation ceiling in exchange for huge cuts to discretionary federal costs. It squeezed through the slim GOP-majority House regardless of opposition from every Democrat and 4 Republicans.
Schumer stated the Republican costs “would tear at the fabric of American society, impose dramatic cuts to our public security and cut law enforcement dramatically at a time when we need help from them.” He argued that it would lead to the “desertion of veterans [and] awful task losses.”
Yet minutes prior to Schumer provided his scathing condemnation of the House GOP costs, he went into that exact same costs onto the Senate calendar under an unique guideline that permits it to bypass the Senate committee procedure and move right to the flooring for factor to consider.
Schumer likewise moved a different piece of legislation to the flooring– a Democratic costs to suspend the financial obligation limitation throughDec 31, 2024.
There are 2 methods for Congress to prevent a looming financial obligation default: The very first is by voting to raise the statutory financial obligation limitation, presently set at $314 trillion. The 2nd is by voting to suspend the limitation for a set quantity of time, basically stopping the clock on default.
For House and Senate Republicans who have actually assured constituents they will not vote to raise the financial obligation limitation without very first protecting significant concessions from Democrats on costs, the alternative of voting to suspend the financial obligation limitation might use them some space to maneuver without breaking their promise to citizens.
Later in the day, Schumer informed press reporters that after the Senate passed a so-called “clean” financial obligation ceiling suspension costs, “then we might utilize [the House GOP bill) for a proper discussion of the appropriations and budget process.”
Jeffries and McConnell weigh in
As Democrats explored their options, Republicans were largely muted on Tuesday. When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on the Senate floor immediately after Schumer, he did not mention the debt ceiling.
He later insisted that any negotiations must take place between McCarthy and Biden. “The ultimate solution will be between the Republican House and the president, and the sooner the president and the speaker get about it, the better off the country will be,” McConnell told reporters at a press briefing.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at the the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., April 17, 2023.
Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters
On the House side, plans were also in motion Tuesday to begin work on a way for Democrats to move a bill to raise the debt limit to the floor without the support of GOP majority leadership using a legislative vehicle known as a discharge petition.
Specifically, Jeffries said in a letter to his Democratic colleagues that Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., “just filed a special rule that would allow for Floor consideration of a bipartisan measure to avoid a dangerous default.”
“The filing of a debt ceiling measure to be brought up on the discharge calendar preserves an important option,” wrote Jeffries.
A Democratic discharge petition would still face major hurdles, starting with challenge of convincing at least a half dozen House Republicans to abandon to dramatically cross the aisle to vote for a Democratic bill. If it were to pass the House, any bill would then face the 60-vote filibuster threshold in the Senate.
Senate math will be further complicated by the ongoing absence of California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who has been away from Washington since February on a medical absence, with no immediate plans to return.