Biden, top Democrats call on GOP to present ‘clean’ debt limit bill; hold separate budget negotiations

Biden, top Democrats call on GOP to present 'clean' debt limit bill; hold separate budget negotiations

President Biden and top congressional Democrats are calling on Republicans to present a “clean” debt limit bill and hold separate negotiations on a budget, as the GOP rolls out its opening pitch in the high-stakes battle to increase the borrowing limit.

The White House announced Tuesday night that Biden spoke with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on the phone that afternoon, and that the trio discussed the looming fights over raising the debt limit and passing a budget.

“The President, Leader Schumer, and Leader Jeffries also discussed House Republicans’ brinkmanship over default and how their recklessness could crash the economy. President Biden, Leader Schumer, and Leader Jeffries agree that we won’t negotiate over default and Republicans should pass a clean bill like they did three times in the previous administration,” the White House said in a readout.

“The President told Leader Schumer and Leader Jeffries that he was ready to have a separate negotiation over the budget once Republicans present their plan, as has been done by both parties in Congress and the White House in the past,” the readout added.

The call between the top Democrats came the same day Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) laid out his plan to raise the debt ceiling to House Republicans, marking the opening salvo in a crucial battle on Capitol Hill. The framework includes bringing discretionary non-defense spending to fiscal 2022 levels and implementing work requirements for safety net programs.

McCarthy, however, has not yet released the text of the proposal.

Biden has been adamant that he wants Congress to pass a clean debt ceiling increase, but House Republicans have pushed for spending cuts to be linked to any hike of the borrowing limit. On Monday, during a speech at the New York Stock Exchange, McCarthy said “let me be clear: a no-strings-attached debt limit increase cannot pass.”

Biden and McCarthy met to discuss the matter on Feb. 1, though the president has refused to meet with the Speaker on the matter again until Republicans release a 10-year budget proposal. Last month, House Budget chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) said GOP lawmakers were still working on writing a budget plan, signaling that more work had to be done to amass support from the conference.

During Tuesday’s call, Biden, Schumer and Jeffries railed against proposed GOP spending cuts.

“They discussed what we know about House Republicans’ extreme MAGA spending cuts, which include devastating cuts to veterans and education, taking food assistance and health care away from millions of people, and sending manufacturing overseas — all just to pay for their tax cuts for the super-wealthy and corporations,” the White House said.

Aside from the debt ceiling and budget, Biden, Schumer and Jeffries also talked about “Congressional Democrats’ efforts to lower costs for hardworking families, protect essential programs that make communities safer, and confirm the President’s nominees,” according to the readout.

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