The last time we looked in on the stalemate among the White House, congressional Democrats, and Republican leadership in the House on the debt ceiling deal, the talks had been placed in neutral, with only aides for all parties doing the talking. That came after Joe Biden’s administration scrapped a scheduled follow-up meeting for last Friday, readers might recall—nearly a week ago.
As Biden was leaving on his trip to Japan and several other pan-Pacific countries, including Australia, on Wednesday, it was announced the trip would be cut short to get back to the negotiating table on Sunday, according to the Hill.
But on Thursday, USA Today reported, Democrats are starting to get the jitters over whether Biden will ‘cave’ to GOP priorities in the debt ceiling deal:
WASHINGTON − President Joe Biden faces unrest from progressive Democrats in Congress worried the White House might be conceding too much in debt ceiling talks with Republicans as negotiations begin a more accelerated pace before a June 1 deadline for a potential default.
Although Biden insisted for months he wouldn’t negotiate over raising the debt ceiling, Republicans have successfully used the moment to force the White House into entertaining Republican proposals for spending cuts in parallel budget negotiations.
Before we get to the nitty gritty, we now have the names on who is doing the low-level chit-chat until Biden returns (notice that no one’s really pretending that VP Harris is doing any work on this):
White House discussions with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have shifted to a more granular negotiating phase. Biden tapped Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, and Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget to work with Louisa Terrell, director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, to negotiate directly with McCarthy’s aides.
Okay, now which Republican proposals are progressives fretting themselves sick over?
Republicans have zeroed in on four top areas in negotiations that remain sticking points. Each is outlined in a bill that cleared the GOP-controlled House last month to raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion while rolling back spending by $4.8 trillion over the next decade. […]
Debt ceiling talks have veered into Republican terrain: expanded work requirements for welfare programs, permitting reform for oil and gas projects, possible caps on future discretionary spending and rescinding unspent COVID-19 rescue funds.
The chairwoman of ultra-radical progressive caucus and member of The Squad, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) told USA Today what the Republicans are proposing is a “kind of hostage-taking,” which she insists Biden and the White House “cannot….reward”:
We have to be very clear that this kind of hostage-taking cannot be rewarded.
The president has been a great leader for the last two years and the American people have seen him fighting for them. And I want to make sure that’s the president that is in these negotiations − that he is fighting for regular people and that we are not caving in to things that are nonstarters.
There’s also a group of 10 progressive Democrat senators, along with Bernie Sanders (I-VT), prattling on about Biden invoking the 14th Amendment and blowing up the separation of powers as we know it. But, as we’ve previously shared, Biden has waved that away as a last resort—and given it about as much credence as it deserves, frankly.
Would you be surprised to learn that McCarthy was sounding optimistic on Thursday morning? as Politico reported:
Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Thursday sounded more optimistic than he has in months about finalizing a debt ceiling deal in time to ward off default. […]
“….I see the path that we can come to an agreement. And I think we have a structure now and everybody’s working hard. And I mean we’re working two or three times a day, then going back getting more numbers.”
I’m not surprised in the least. All of the momentum is on the Republicans’ side—for once.
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