GOP ‘Pressing Pause’ On Debt Limit Talks With Biden White House

 May 20, 2023

On Friday, Rep. Garret Graves (R)LA, who has been leading debt ceiling talks, said that Republicans would “pause” talks with the Biden White House on debt ceiling negotiations. It remains unclear however, how long they intend to hold this pause.

Tapped by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) CA, Graves has been serving as one of the lead negotiators with the Biden White House. Others assisting the negotiations includes and Director Shalanda Young of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and White House counselor Steve Richetti.

Until now, Graves has been mostly tight-lipped about negotiations, however he is now accusing the Biden White House of not negotiating in good faith. Reportedly in a recent statement he said-

“It’s just unreasonable. Until people are willing to have reasonable conversations about how you can actually move forward and do the right thing, then we’re not going to sit here and talk to ourselves,”

-Rep. Garret Graves (R) LA

When President Joe Biden left for Japan, for the G-7 world leader conference, leaving Vice President Kamala Harris to be briefed about the continuing debt ceiling talks, the negotiations of the looming debt ceiling deadline stalled.  June 1st is the general deadline set for a final decision by the Department of the Treasury, but for the moment, debt ceiling negotiations are at a standstill.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a written statement-

“While Joe Biden has left the country, border czar Kamala Harris is now involved in debt ceiling negotiations despite presiding over the worst border crisis in history,”… “The Biden-Harris administration’s lack of leadership creates crisis after crisis, leaving American families to suffer the consequences, but they don’t care.”

- Ronna McDaniel, RNC Chairwoman

Deputy spokesman for McCarthy, Chad Gilmartin, wrote-

 “As House and Senate Republicans hold a press conference on a responsible debt limit increase, President Biden departs for Asia…”

- Chad Gilmartin, McCarthy Spokesperson

The key is of course, that June 1st is the stated general deadline, or early June, or sometime in early June. What a fiscally unsound way to run things. Where is the line in the sand? Frankly, in reality the Treasury may shift the due date, based on revenue flowing in the door, so literally, no one seems truly sure where the hard stop will really occur. Apparently, it’s  keeping the markets at bay while these talks proceed that is the tricky part.

In a recent statement on Fox News, Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R) S.C. predicted-

"It will happen before the markets get disrupted,"… "I’m not so sure about June 1st."

-Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R) S.C

On Friday, however, the markets already experienced a slight hiccup when the talks hit "a pause," as described by  Graves. To be fair though – generally the markets demonstrated a good week. McCarthy has said the talks would resume. Apparently though the clock is ticking, the negotiators game of wait and see continues.

Reportedly, the House is in session next week but the Senate is not. However, a Senate recess is not expected to be the real issue here. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) N.Y., told senators that they were on call. He could summon them back to Washington on 24-hour notice.

McCarthy on the other hand says he needs a framework by the end of the weekend, saying further that says the House then needs "three or four" days to process the bill, in whatever form it takes.  He has insisted that he will adhere to the House’s "72-hour rule." This means if the House GOP sticks to the letter of the stated policy, the bill must sit for three days to allow time for the members to digest it. So, if a deal appears, the expectation is that the House will be involved in this until the end of next week.

Next weekend, is Memorial Day weekend and is a likely target for a proposed weekend session. That time table would include Memorial Day itself, a time when lawmakers prefer to be back in their states / districts participating Memorial Day parades. Nothing like a good cliff hanger – while everyone works on their own agenda.  With time of the essence, it will be interesting to see if sincere talks and work can be done to avoid default – a very ugly possibility.

“The American people expect more from Congress. They expect fiscal responsibility and common sense. They expect us to return to the pay-as-you-go budget rules that we had enacted in the past that helped us establish a surplus, however briefly.”

-Melissa Bean
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