House, Senate, and White House Debt Limit Negotiations Have Begun

Debt Limit Increase Ahead signage

Congress has been busy over the last few months tackling parental rights, protecting women in sports, judicial nominees, and more, but they have yet to address the elephant in the room: the debt limit. Several strategies have been thrown out to address the impending default. Some have been legitimate while others have been talking points to scare the other side into negotiating. As expected, the Biden Administration (that will dictate to Congressional Democrats) and the House Republicans (supported by most Senate Republicans) have failed to reach an agreement on a path forward yet, but with talks underway, one side will have to make the first move.  

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) released his proposal last month called the Limit, Save, Grow Act (H.R. 2811). The bill sets a new level on the debt limit with two options: suspend the debt limit through March 31, 2024, or until the debt reaches $1.5 trillion, whichever occurs first. Additionally, it provides $4.5 trillion in cuts to discretionary spending, rescinds unspent COVID-19 funds, revokes Biden’s student debt cancellation plans, and places work requirements in welfare programs. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has voiced his support for this language, and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) coordinated a group of 43 GOP Senators that sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stating “the Senate Republican conference is united behind the House Republican conference in support of spending cuts and structural budget reform as a starting point for negotiations on the debt ceiling.” These Senators vow they “will not be voting for cloture on any bill that raises the debt ceiling without substantive spending and budget reforms.”

Democrats have drastically different views. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has expressed his desire for a long-term debt limit increase without any reforms. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer shares the same view.  It seems they want to continue racking up our nation’s debt while refusing to institute the safeguards needed to prevent this from happening again. Jeffries stated:

Every day Americans understand this principle: If you have a bill, you need to pay it. If you fail to pay it. It’s going to adversely impact your credit rating; your credit score will drop. If your credit score drops, your costs are going to go up and if America defaults on our bills, that’s exactly what is going to happen. And everyone is going to pay the price.

His words are ironic given that Democrats placed extended holds on rent, mortgages, and student loan repayments during (and well beyond) the pandemic. They are currently trying to pass legislation that would completely cancel all student loan debt. Jeffries’ statement is disingenuous at best.

President Joe Biden has his own plans too. He has threatened to use the 14th Amendment to get his way. The amendment reads:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

 For this to make sense, Biden would have to label the proposals from House Republicans as an “insurrection or rebellion” which is ludicrous. Plus, the Constitution is very clear that only Congress can borrow money to pay off the debt. His mention of waiting to see what “the court would say about whether or not it does work,” means that he is comfortable letting the nation default on our debts while he ties up this issue in frivolous litigation. He has rubber-stamped his party’s massive spending and refuses to face the consequences.

On Tuesday, the “Big Four” met with Biden to hash out a plan on the debt limit. It’s no surprise that McCarthy, Jeffries, Schumer, and McConnell could not get on the same page with the White House. While any movement on debt limit legislation has stalled at the moment, another meeting is scheduled to take place on Friday.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claims that the country could default as early as June 1st. Republicans are skeptical about that date. In the same sentence, Yellen goes on to say that the deadline could be “a number of weeks later than these estimates.” Biden sat on this news for eight days before calling a meeting with House and Senate leadership. If the President does not take this seriously, it is easy to believe that the Biden administration is just posturing.

Eagle Forum deplores the position in which Washington has put our nation. Our elected officials must cut spending so that we the taxpayers and our children and grandchildren will not have to foot the bill. We will track any upcoming movement on the debt limit negotiations.  Renew your membership with Eagle Forum to get the latest updates from Capitol Hill and beyond.

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