Over State of the Union, potential debt ceiling standofflooms large
Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union address while Kevin McCarthy is watching over his shoulder. A possible standoff over the debt limit will be between the two men.
With new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy watching over Joe Biden's State of the Union address, President Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday. A potential standoff over raising the federal borrowing limit will be between the two.
McCarthy and Biden will have to work together to overcome the first major obstacle: how to raise the borrowing limit. The Treasury Department indicated that this would need to be done by June.
Biden will likely be influenced by the conflict and the potentially disastrous economic consequences of a default on debt. He will speak Tuesday to try to reassure the 53% of Americans who are very concerned about the outcome. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, 53% of Americans are very concerned.
Republicans hold a narrow majority in the House. Therefore, raising the debt limit can't be achieved without GOP votes. This gives McCarthy greater influence over negotiations, if he can manage his conference. McCarthy won the House after a lengthy speaker election, in which he had to make concessions to the right wing.
In remarks Monday night, the speaker attempted to preempt the president’s State of the Union speech. He outlined what he considered the major risks the nation faces if it fails to reduce its spending. He called the nation's $31.4 trillion national debt the "greatest threat to our country's future."
"President Biden wants Congress raise the debt limit again... without any sensible change to government spending your hard-earned dollars. Does that sound like you are being responsible? McCarthy stated."What Americans want, and what Republicans are fighting to get," McCarthy said.
This is a nonstarter for Biden's administration. It insists that the debt limit should be increased without any political negotiation or bargaining. This has been done by both parties over many decades.
"It's that simple. This should not be a place for hostage-taking. At a briefing last month, Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, stated that there should not be any attempts to exploit the debt limit or to leverage it.
Biden also asked McCarthy to "show us your budget" -- a request for the Republican speaker of Congress to detail the cuts to the federal budget that he would like to see in return for his criticisms of federal spending.
McCarthy has repeatedly stated that decreasing Medicare and Social Security funds is not an option, but Democrats and the White House pointed out the ambiguity surrounding his plan to suggest otherwise.
McCarthy's Monday comments came after Biden and he had discussed the debt limit and other issues last week at White House, their first meeting since McCarthy was elected speaker. Although there were no agreements or outcomes, both McCarthy and Biden described the sit-down optimistically.
Separately, officials from the Biden administration have indicated that they will negotiate on spending and budget in parallel talks with the White House -- provided that the debt ceiling is not raised without strings attached.
Months before a deal was reached, brokered in part in part by Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell, then-President Barack Obama addressed the nation’s debt in his State of the Union address.