It’s officially spring, which means it’s recess time for Congress, out to observe the Easter and Passover holidays until April 17. Barely Speaker Kevin McCarthy had a parting shot for President Joe Biden last week, sending a letter to Biden demanding … things, like Biden taking him seriously and meeting on the debt ceiling. That came with a nasty dig from McCarthy about Biden’s age. Not a great way to achieve his aim of being treated like a real lawmaker.
Neither is telling whoppers like the House GOP can pass their own debt ceiling bill. He said last Thursday that they are “very close” to agreement on the issue, “and if the president doesn’t act, we will.”
That strikes as particularly ridiculous considering McCarthy had just finished stepping all over his Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington’s announcement that he was finalizing a formal list of spending cuts to take to Biden, as requested by McCarthy. Arrington told reporters that they were “on track to have something on paper, in writing, that the conference can move forward with.”
“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” McCarthy told reporters a few days later. So that’s fun. So is this.
“I don’t see how we get there,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry on raising the debt ceiling. He’s chair of the Financial Services Committee. “And this is a marked change from where I’ve been. I don’t even see a path.” He also said, “I’ve never been more pessimistic about where we stand with the debt ceiling, and we’ve been in some bad situations before.” Wheeeee!
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Enter the Problem Solvers! That’s the bipartisan group of meddlers who have yet to really solve anything. According to Politico, some Democrats in that gang are meeting with some Republicans to create a “fallback plan.” The only member of what Politico is calling a “rogue band of moderate Democrats” to go on the record was the House’s answer to Sen. Joe Manchin, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine.
“None of us work for the White House. We work for our constituents. And they should start talking and negotiating,” he told Politico, giving them their favorite thing: a quote from a nominal Democrat bashing Biden. Another, who refused to go on the record, said: “you’ve got party leaders in both houses that don’t want us to talk to one another.” Supposedly they’ve been meeting with GOP “centrists” since the beginning of February. However, two more anonymous lawmakers told Politico that “they have not honed specific details yet.” So that’s clearly progressing well.
The White House remains steadfast in to its demand for a clean debt ceiling bill, no cuts attached. “It’s time for Republicans to stop playing games, agree to a pass a clean debt ceiling bill, and quit threatening to wreak havoc on our economy. And if they want to have a conversation about our nation’s economic and fiscal future, it’s time for them to put out a Budget—as the President has done with his detailed plan to grow the economy, lower costs, and reduce the deficit by nearly $3 trillion.”
And they feel pretty good about that position. “How does [McCarthy] win here?” an economic adviser to the White House asked rhetorically. “They don’t really have a strategic plan.”
They don’t have a budget, either, with an agreement in just the House GOP months away, according to Arrington.
That’s Biden’s fault, too, McCarthy insists. “Well, we were going to do the budget in April but unfortunately the president’s so late with his budget, it delays our budget.” Which is not an actual legislating thing. There’s no rule about the House having to wait for the White House.
Which also doesn’t much help McCarthy’s efforts to make himself look like a real leader.
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