Biden Hits the Road to Push Congress on the Debt Ceiling

May 10, 2023

President Biden is set to travel to Valhalla, New York Wednesday where he’ll call on Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

The trip follows Biden’s meeting Tuesday with Congressional leaders—Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)—to try to end the political stalemate over raising the debt. 

“We agreed to continue our discussions, and we’re going to meet again on Friday,” Biden told reporters after their discussions, calling the meeting “productive” and adding that their staffs would continue to meet “daily between now and then.”

He stated that everyone in the meeting “understood the risk of default,” and added, “This nation has never defaulted on its debt, and it never will.”

House Republicans have proposed legislation that ties a short-term debt ceiling hike to decade-long spending cuts.

The bill, which passed in the House along partisan lines, includes cuts to veterans’ benefits and work requirements for Medicaid recipients. Schumer has declared it dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. 

“Speaker McCarthy offered a very different way forward. He has proposed deep cuts that I believe will hurt American families,” Biden asserted Tuesday.

“I’ve made it clear that we can cut spending and cut the deficit,” Biden continued. “For example, my budget cuts $200 billion in spending by strengthening Medicare’s power to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices…And my budget cuts $30 billion in tax subsidies for big oil companies.” 

After Tuesday’s meeting McConnell, who insisted in January that “America must never default on its debt,” repeated claims that the standoff needs to be solved by Biden and McCarthy. 

“This can only be solved by the one person in America who can sign something into law and by the majority of the opposite party, in divided government,” McConnell said. “Hopefully that’s the direction in which we were headed now, because we’re running out of time.”

McCarthy, meanwhile, repeated claims that his job is done, stating, “I’ve done everything in my power to make sure it will not default. We have passed a bill that raised the debt limit. Now, I haven’t seen that in the Senate.”

On the Democratic side, Schumer blasted McCarthy after the meeting, saying, “By not taking default off the table, Speaker McCarthy is gravely endangering America and making it much harder to make progress on budget negotiations.”

However, Jeffries told reporters that some progress had been made during the meeting. “We had an honest, frank discussion about a path forward,” he said.

Biden chose Valhalla in New York’s Hudson Valley to make his sales pitch because it’s a congressional district he won in 2020 but is represented in the House by Mike Lawler (R). 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that defaulting on our debt—which the United States is at serious risk of doing as soon at June 1—would be “catastrophic.”

“Household payments on mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards would rise, and American businesses would see credit markets deteriorate.” she has previously warned. “On top of that, it is unlikely that the federal government would be able to issue payments to millions of Americans, including our military families and seniors who rely on Social Security.”

Wall Street analysts have further noted that a stock market plunge as a result of debt default could wipe out 6 million jobs and $15 trillion in wealth.

“America is not a deadbeat nation,” Biden reiterated Tuesday. “We pay our bills, and avoiding default is a basic duty of the United States Congress.”

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