House will move debt limit bill if Biden won't negotiate

Lindsey McPherson, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

​WASHINGTON — House Republicans are not ready to give up on President Joe Biden agreeing to negotiate on the debt limit, but if he doesn’t engage, they say they will act on their own.

Republicans are seeking fiscal policy changes to pair with a debt limit increase, but Democrats say they won’t bargain on such conditions and are insisting on a clean bill. Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and President Joe Biden exchanged letters Tuesday doubling down on those positions.

McCarthy’s letter floated a nonexhaustive list of policy options Republicans are prepared to discuss, including energy and border policy measures as well as fiscal restraints like nondefense discretionary spending curbs and work requirements for benefit programs.

McCarthy said Thursday that Biden “apparently doesn’t want to meet” and “needs to change his behavior, go back to the person he said he was, (believing) you need to sit down.”

But the speaker said if Biden doesn’t reverse course soon, Republicans are coalescing around a debt limit bill they could bring to the floor that would reflect the positions outlined in his letter.

“The conference is very close, and if the president doesn’t act, we will,” he said.


McCarthy said he still wants to meet with Biden but expressed frustration at the president’s intransigence.

“He is making the decision that he wants to put the economy in jeopardy,” the speaker said. “I would bring the lunch to the White House. I would make it soft food if that’s what he wants … whatever it takes to meet.”

While Biden has said he won’t negotiate on the debt ceiling, he did offer to meet with McCarthy to discuss fiscal issues once Republicans produce a budget blueprint.

McCarthy dismissed that condition. “A budget resolution doesn’t even go to the president. And a budget resolution doesn’t raise the debt limit,” he said.


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