Schumer signals he will negotiate on budget but not debt ceiling hike

Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pauses while speaking to reporters following a closed-door Democratic policy meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 22, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Schumer signals he will negotiate on budget but not debt ceiling hike

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) acknowledged Thursday that leaders must negotiate a budget but stood firm on talks about raising the nation’s borrowing limit.

With the potential of a first-ever default on the horizon, there has been no progress on a deal to raise the debt ceiling. The Congressional Budget Office estimates lawmakers have between June and September to find a resolution to avoid falling off the cliff.

“We understand we have to negotiate a budget, as we’ve done in previous years,” Schumer said, attempting to sidestep a question from a reporter asking if Democrats would be open to spending cuts this year in the budget.

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“But that should not be part of the debt ceiling. Look, we are going to have to come together, Democrats and Republicans, and hopefully pass a budget, not a CR, but an omnibus. We did it last year, and we will do it again. I’m not going to negotiate ahead of time,” he added.

Democrats remain firm in their stance that House Republicans should raise the nation’s borrowing limit with no conditions. House Republicans continue to reject that position and assert they won’t pass a debt ceiling increase unless they have an agreement with the White House on budget cuts. Senate Democrats also continue to call on House Republicans to put out their plan. All while, Senate Republicans are waiting in the wings, leaving it all up to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to negotiate a path forward with President Joe Biden.

“The Republican budget plan is hiding in the witness protection program. It’s in an undisclosed location,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said during a joint press conference to talk about a new Joint Economic Committee report produced by Democratic staff. “They have failed to present it at all. They’re not serious about moving forward in a sensible way.”

The press conference comes as the House Freedom Caucus recently released a blueprint for budget cuts as a condition for a vote to raise the debt limit. The exhaustive list of demands includes measures that would cut current spending and place a cap on future spending. It would also rescind unspent COVID-19 funds, end student loan bailout programs, and repeal increased funding for the Internal Revenue Service that was part of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

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Behind the scenes, McCarthy has started to meet with members who represent the different ideological corners of his caucus. At this point, there have been no major breakthroughs, and House Republicans still have not coalesced around which spending cuts they want to demand, which could be a highly political process.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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