Republicans show bicameral unity with restructured debt talks underway

Published: May. 17, 2023 at 3:18 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The back and forth over the debt limit continues in Washington. Leaders have begun restructured negotiations as they try to avoid a default, while seemingly standing firm on lines they will not cross to get to a deal.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) held a press conference alongside a handful of Senate Republicans Wednesday trying to show a unified front in the standoff over raising the debt limit. McCarthy rehashed Republican priorities while providing no new evidence of progress in the talks.

“We have a big obstacle in the White House. But we’re going to change the course of history,” said McCarthy.

Speaker McCarthy criticized President Biden with fresh negotiations underway between the two offices. The President’s newly appointed team is led by top aides Shalanda Young and Steve Ricchetti while McCarthy is relying on his staff and Rep. Garret Graves (R-Louis.).

McCarthy again pointed to policies Republicans want in a deal, like permitting reform for energy projects, spending caps, reclaiming unspent COVID funding, and stricter work requirements for social programs.

“Why wouldn’t he want to help people get out of poverty?” said McCarthy pointing the finger at President Biden.

The Senate Republicans in attendance said they are in lockstep with their House counterparts, after 45 of them recently penned a letter announcing their support for the House effort in negotiations.

“Republicans in the Senate stand in firm support of the Republicans in the House of Representatives,” said Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

Meanwhile House Democrats are moving ahead with a discharge petition - a procedure allowing them to put a clean debt limit bill on the floor by going around Speaker McCarthy.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries wrote in a letter to colleagues, “…given the impending June 1 deadline and urgency of the moment, it is important that all legislative options be pursued in the event that no agreement is reached.”

President Biden also spoke about the negotiations Wednesday before leaving for Japan for the rest of the week for the G7 conference.

“I voted years ago for the work requirements that exist. It’s possible there could be a few others but not anything of any consequence,” said President Biden.

The president reiterated America is not a deadbeat nation, and said he is confident there will be a budget deal completed, allowing the U.S. to avoid default.

“We’re going to come together, because there’s no alternative. We have to do the right thing for the country,” said President Biden.

The president said he will have more to say on the debt ceiling Sunday when he returns from Japan. In the meantime, negotiators will continue their work.