Republicans push for debt ceiling agreement without presenting budget proposal

Kevin McCarthy
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., speaks to the media at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 2, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Republicans push for debt ceiling agreement without presenting budget proposal

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House Republicans are pushing for an agreement on the debt ceiling crisis, urging lawmakers to move forward with negotiations even without the party releasing its budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

GOP lawmakers are seeking to separate their budget from the debt ceiling, hoping to move forward with talks on the latter while continuing to smooth out internal disagreements over the party’s framework. The shift in strategy puts Republicans at odds with President Joe Biden, who has refused to negotiate on the debt ceiling until GOP leaders release their budget.

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However, several Republicans are seeking to redirect the conversation by downplaying the importance of their budget when it comes to the country’s deficit.

“The reality is that the president’s budget did nothing to ripen this negotiation. The Republican House budget is going to do nothing to write this negotiation,” Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) told the Hill. “The only thing that will ripen this negotiation is the speaker and the president sitting down and talking.”

Other GOP members hinted that their proposal may not even be finalized for weeks, noting a House budget can easily be kicked down the road while the debt ceiling must be prioritized.

“The budget — that thing is aspirational,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told the outlet. “Like, nobody ever sticks to the budget. What matters is the appropriations process.”

Others went further, seeking to paint the two as entirely independent of each other.

“I don’t think the budget has anything to do with the spending limit,” said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK). “There should be things in the spending limit conversation that are a segue to the budget, but you don’t have to have the budget first.”

The tone shift comes after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wrote a letter to Biden earlier this week demanding a meeting with the president to continue negotiations on the debt ceiling. McCarthy outlined a number of topics he wishes to discuss with Biden, including negotiations on nondefense government spending, unspent COVID-19 funds, and lower energy costs, among other things.

The letter comes as negotiations between Democrats and Republicans have remained stalled, and members of both parties attempt to use the financial crisis to achieve their own priorities. While Republicans seek to negotiate spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, Democrats have remained adamant to pass a clean debt ceiling raise — putting lawmakers at an impasse just months before the looming deadline of a default.

McCarthy met with Biden in January to begin negotiations on the debt ceiling, but that meeting ended without a binding agreement as the White House maintains it will not discuss federal spending until the borrowing limit is lifted. Meanwhile, McCarthy has drawn his own line, saying that spending cuts are required.

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Biden has also refused to meet for negotiations until House Republicans release their proposed budget, which GOP lawmakers say has been held back because Biden himself was delayed in releasing his own proposal. Republicans have until April 15 to present their proposed budget, although it’s not clear when lawmakers plan to release it.

The United States hit its debt ceiling on Jan. 19, raising fears of a default. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said her agency would take “extraordinary measures” to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its obligations, but the department will only have a few months before those measures are exhausted.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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