Speaker McCarthy Sends White House List of Asks to Make Debt Ceiling Deal

The Debt ceiling debate entered a new phase yesterday.  Speaker McCarthy sent the President a letter laying out what House Republicans were seeking as part of a deal to raise the debt limit.  His asks include:

  • “Reduce excessive nondefense government spending to pre-inflationary levels and limit outyear growth, similar to what Sen. Joe Manchin has proposed
  • Reclaiming unspent COVID funds that have sat dormant for two years
  • Strengthening work requirements for those without dependents who can work as was enacted under President Bill Clinton and you voted for as a U.S. Senator
  • Policies to grow our economy and keep America safe, including measures to lower energy costs, make America energy independent and secure our border from the deadly fentanyl that is killing 300 Americans a day.”

Speaker McCarthy and President Biden have not discussed the debt ceiling since February 1st.  The President has said to House Republicans, “show me your budget.”  With a four-seat majority, producing a passing budget resolution is not an easy task for House Republicans.  House leadership leaked yesterday that the House may not pass a budget before the debt limit X date is reached.  In essence, what Speaker McCarthy said was, what does our budget have to do with you and I sitting down and negotiating a deal to raise the debt limit. You want to know what House Republican demands are?  I just laid them out, let’s talk.

Certainly, this is a pivot.  House Republicans have been working on a budget resolution for several months – holding listening sessions with groups of Members and working to find a path that unites all Republicans.  But it is a pivot with a point.  A House budget resolution is not a requirement for negotiations to begin.  The President’s budget hasn’t been voted on.  Senate Democrats aren’t going to produce a budget resolution either.  Time is running short.  Why not start talking?  It puts the White House in a tricky situation – why won’t they negotiate.  The White House, for now, seems confident that they can force Republicans to accept a clean debt ceiling with no spending restraint.  As the date grows closer, the pressure will build to raise the debt ceiling and House Republicans will be forced to accept a clean debt limit increase.

There is a long way to go and not much time left to get there.


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