House Republicans are intent on taking hostages as part of an agreement on raising the debt limit, but Senate Republicans wish their House counterparts would get their act together and actually name the hostages. That’s the basic takeaway from Friday’s Punchbowl News newsletter. House Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington says he’s working on a “deal sheet” to demand President Joe Biden sign onto to get the debt limit vote, but it doesn’t seem like Senate Republicans are confident that’s happening in a timely fashion or within realistic parameters.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is out of commission while recovering from a fall, but other Senate Republicans are delivering the message.
“[House Republicans] want to address the long-term budget issues, and I think they’re being reasonable in saying it,” Sen. Mike Rounds said. “But they also have to be reasonable in knowing what we can do in a matter of one year. But long-term, you’ve got to have a better plan than what is being laid out today.”
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Rounds wasn’t the only one who sounded doubtful when talking to Punchbowl. “The president needs to reconvene the speaker of the House and get the negotiations going,” said Sen. Susan Collins.
“At some point, both sides will have to get serious. Nobody wants to see a default. And if I’m the Biden administration, I certainly don’t want that on my watch,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune said. “And that should provide at least some incentive for them to be at the table and to see what they can accomplish.” While Thune is trying to focus equally there, the fact that he couldn’t find a way to make his concerns solely focused on the Biden administration says a lot.
It’s not that Senate Republicans don’t want to take hostages. They’re mostly worried that House Republicans will demand too many hostages and take too long in doing it, dragging this out to where the only option is a clean debt limit increase. So they feel an urgency about it.
Arrington told Bloomberg the plan was to ask for $130 billion in domestic cuts next year and for a 1% spending cap for the next decade. Cause suffering, throttle growth—it’s the Republican way.
At the same time, House Republicans are acknowledging that their budget plan will be delayed. The White House is eager to see that, too. “President Biden has produced a detailed budget that reduces the deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade while continuing to invest in America, and House Republicans should do the same so everybody can truly see how the numbers add up,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said. Biden's plan taxes the rich and invests in things people need, so yeah, bring on the comparisons.
One thing Republicans aren’t talking about is how, thanks largely to the tax cuts they were so eager to hand to corporations and the wealthiest people, 25% of the national debt was accrued in just four years under Donald Trump. Biden seems likely to mention that, along with the specifics of what Republicans want to cut now, as the debt ceiling fight heats up.
Estimates of the absolute deadline for increasing the debt limit range from early June to as late as September, but if it looks like House Republicans are going to hold it up past the point of no return, economic fallout is likely to start before the ceiling is actually breached.
Biden is thumping the House Republican extremists, and McConnell knows it
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You know about the DSCC and DCCC, but have you heard of DASS? You'll want to! We're talking with Kim Rogers, the executive director of the not-especially-well-known but crucially important Democratic Association of Secretaries of State on this edition of The Downballot. Rogers explains how her organization helps recruit candidates, deploy resources, and win races for secretary of state across the country—and why these elections operate so differently from many others. She also tells us about what Democratic secretaries are doing to fight disinformation and expand voting rights, and the most bonkers thing she heard come out of the mouth of a 2022 election denier.