Senior White House officials and congressional aides are beginning to discuss a path to avoid a catastrophic debt default, which could come as early as June 1.
WASHINGTON — Fresh off a White House meeting without any serious breakthrough on the debt-limit deadlock, President Joe Biden is launching a new phase in his lobbying campaign against House Republicans as he argues lawmakers should rescind the lending authority of the nation without any strings attached.
Biden will travel to Valhalla, New York, on Wednesday to argue that a measure passed by House GOP lawmakers that would raise the debt limit for about a year while reducing some federal spending would force cuts to assistance for veterans, educators and other household priorities. The area is represented by first-term Republican Representative Mike Lawler, whose district Biden won in 2020.
The White House will use the trip to trumpet what it says is economic progress under the Democratic president, pointing to the number of jobs created during his tenure and a new focus on domestic manufacturing, while warning that an unprecedented debt default it would threaten millions of jobs. and raise the prospect of a recession.
Back in Washington, senior White House officials and congressional aides were beginning to discuss a path to avoid a catastrophic debt default as early as June 1, in preparation for another meeting between Biden and top Capitol Hill leaders later this week. week. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., showed little sign that he and House Republicans were willing to budge from their proposed debt cap, and Biden stressed again that their plan with him was not started.
“He has proposed deep cuts that I believe will hurt American families,” Biden told reporters after his meeting with McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN. Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Biden will also invoke the specter of cuts to veterans’ care in his remarks, an issue that has become particularly touchy in the back-and-forth rhetoric between the White House and congressional Republicans. When the president suggested at the meeting that the House GOP plan could end up cutting veterans’ benefits, McCarthy told reporters he said it was a “lie.” But Biden disputed that was a lie, saying the across-the-board cuts would affect veterans assistance and other vital domestic programs.
The standoff comes as the US government is rapidly clashing with its legal lending authority, meaning it may not be able to pay its bills as early as early next month unless lawmakers agree to lift the limit.
Biden is also expected to spend a week overseas in Japan, Australia and Papua New Guinea later this month. She said postponing her trip is “possible but not likely.”
With debt talks showing minimal progress, the White House is hoping Biden’s public relations campaign — starting with a congressional district that will be key for Democrats looking to wrest control of the House from Republicans next year — you increase the pressure on GOP lawmakers who cannot politically afford to alienate moderate voters. Lawler, as one of 18 House Republicans from a congressional district won by Biden, is a prime target for the White House.
Still, Lawler accepted the White House’s invitation, “perhaps to their surprise,” the lawmaker said in an interview Tuesday. He said it was a “little disappointing” that Biden spent his time traveling around his district rather than negotiating with other leaders in Washington.
“Nobody wants to see us default. Nobody wants to see us not raise the debt limit. But they also don’t want to see us continue to spend money that we don’t have,” Lawler said. “When I’m out talking to people in my community, in my district, I generally agree with my position.”
Despite Lawler’s presence at the event, at Westchester Community College, Biden “will always be honest with the American people,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.
“The president will drive home the impact of these current discussions that we’re having: the economy, how it affects real hard working Americans. This is what you will hear from the president,” he said. “He will be very clear about it. It will be clear about what could potentially happen.”
House Republicans, in their debt measure passed in April, aim for $4.5 trillion in deficit savings through spending cuts, eliminating tax breaks for clean energy investments and reversing the Biden administration’s proposal that would forgive student loan debt. The White House made it clear that Biden would veto such legislation.
Democrats, who control the Senate from 51 to 49, are calling for an increase in the “clean” debt limit without any conditions like spending cuts, but any such measure would require the support of at least nine Republican senators, and most of them he claims he will object to doing so.
While in New York on Wednesday, Biden, who formalized his re-election campaign on April 25, will also hold a couple of fundraisers.
AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.