After Months Of Delay, Biden Finally Blinks On The Debt Ceiling Following Speaker McCarthy’s Action

Senate Republicans Are United In Supporting Speaker McCarthy, While Senate Democrat Leaders Continue To Offer Absolutely Nothing But Angry Rhetoric And Show Hearings


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[L]et’s be perfectly clear about where we are. The House has passed a bill which raises the debt ceiling and outlines House Republican priorities. Many people thought that wouldn’t happen, it has. The message to the President at this point is also pretty clear. You’ve got a choice between accepting the House bill or entering into a discussion which the Speaker has been trying to have with the President for some time for an agreement between the two of them. (Sen. McConnell, Press Conference, 5/02/2023)

  • LEADER McCONNELL: “The President and the Speaker need to reach an agreement to get us past this impasse.... They have got to have a measure that can pass the House. How does it pass the House? It has to have the support of the Speaker, and I’m behind the Speaker.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Conference, 5/02/2023)


Thanks To House Republicans Passing Their Plan, President Biden Has Finally Agreed To Meet With Speaker McCarthy On Raising The Debt Limit

“President Joe Biden spent four months challenging Republicans to do one simple thing when it came to the debt ceiling: Show a plan. Now, House Republicans’ narrow Wednesday passage of a debt limit bill packed with spending cuts and conservative priorities is forcing Biden to shift tactics.” (“White House Regroups After McCarthy’s Debt Ceiling Success,” Politico, 4/27/2023)

“President Biden called the four congressional leaders Monday afternoon and invited them to a May 9 meeting on the debt ceiling, according to three people familiar with the calls. The White House later announced in a statement that the invitation had been made …” (“Debt Ceiling: Biden Calls Congressional Leaders And Invites Them To Meet,” CBS News, 5/01/2023)

Biden ‘Is Under Increasing Pressure From Business Groups’ And Members Of His Own Party To Negotiate While ‘Some Biden Allies And Democratic Lawmakers Privately Acknowledged … That The President Will Ultimately Need To Cut A Deal’

“President Joe Biden is under increasing pressure from business groups to negotiate with Speaker Kevin McCarthy on the US debt limit, a blow to the White House’s goal of avoiding talks with Republicans on raising it. Some White House officials had wanted business groups to pressure McCarthy … Instead, two of the biggest Washington business associations — the US Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable — broke the other way and said Biden should agree to talks after McCarthy won a narrow but important victory with House passage of a proposal …” (“Biden Loses Debt-Limit Leverage as Business Pushes for Talks,” Bloomberg News, 5/01/2023)

“President Joe Biden immediately rejected Kevin McCarthy‘s opening debt-limit proposal, but it prompted movement elsewhere: A growing number of House Democrats want party leaders to restart negotiations…. [A] growing contingent of Democrats are acknowledging that Biden’s blanket refusal to engage with McCarthy may need to change …” (“House Dems Call On Biden To Meet With Mccarthy On Debt Limit,” Politico, 4/20/2023)

“Some Biden allies and Democratic lawmakers privately acknowledged even before the Treasury letter that the president will ultimately need to cut a deal …” (Politico, 5/01/2023)


House Republicans Have Passed A Bill To Raise The Debt Ceiling, The Only Bill That Has Moved In Either Chamber Of Congress

“House Republicans narrowly passed sweeping legislation Wednesday that would raise the government’s legal debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion in exchange for steep spending restrictions, a tactical victory for Speaker Kevin McCarthy as he challenges President Joe Biden to negotiate and prevent a catastrophic federal default this summer.” (“House Republicans Pass US Debt Bill, Push Biden On Spending,” The Associated Press, 4/27/2023)

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD: “House Republicans passed their first big legislative test on Wednesday as they passed their bill to increase the federal debt ceiling with no help from Democrats…. President Biden says he won’t sign the House bill, but the pressure is now on him to negotiate. The same for the Senate, which will have to pass a bill of its own or risk a U.S. default.” (Editorial, “McCarthy Gets a Debt-Ceiling Win,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/26/2023)


Senate Republicans Are United With The Position Of Speaker McCarthy And House Republicans

“Senate Republicans are still not backing away from Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s negotiating position.” (Politico, 5/01/2023)

SENATE REPUBLICAN WHIP JOHN THUNE (R-SD): “If the administration's estimate is correct, the United States is mere weeks away from reaching the limit of its borrowing capacity, which means of course that the president has to reach an agreement with the Republican-led House of Representatives on a debt ceiling bill. But the president has been completely AWOL on this issue…. House Republicans, on the other hand, have been taking this issue seriously. They've offered legislation to raise the debt ceiling paired with spending reforms to slow the rate at which we're accumulating debt…. The fact is in recent history, increases in the debt limit have almost always been the result of negotiations.” (Sen. Thune, Floor Remarks, 5/02/2023)

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT): “Speaker McCarthy has come to the table with some commonsense ideas to claw back wasteful spending, addressed the debt crisis. This should be and must be a bipartisan discussion, but it takes two sides to negotiate. We must have President Biden come to the table in a serious way with Speaker McCarthy to solve this pending crisis.” (Sen. Daines, Press Conference, 4/26/2023)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “We should get out of the way in the Senate and just let Biden and McCarthy cut a deal. It should be somewhat encouraging that Biden has now decided to get off the couch.” (Politico, 5/01/2023)

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): “I’m supporting the House provision.” (Politico, 5/01/2023)

“Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said her party is ‘gonna continue to support what the House has done.’” (“Why The Senate Isn’t Jumping At The Opportunity To End The Debt Crisis,” Politico, 4/26/2023)

“Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) advised Biden to ‘take a good look at’ what the speaker can pass, then start haggling.” (“Why The Senate Isn’t Jumping At The Opportunity To End The Debt Crisis,” Politico, 4/26/2023)


In Fact, The House Bill Is The ONLY Approach With Bipartisan Support So Far

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): “The clock is ticking on this debt ceiling crisis and the American people will pay the economic price if President Biden continues to refuse to sit down and negotiate a commonsense compromise that would prevent a historic default. Speaker McCarthy did his job and he passed a bill that would prevent default and finally begin to rein in federal spending. While I do not agree with everything proposed, it remains the only bill moving through Congress that would prevent default and that cannot be ignored. It has now been 85 days since the President sat down with the Speaker. Only the President can prevent this from becoming a full-blown domestic crisis. For the sake of our nation that we all serve, I urge the President to put politics and partisanship aside, come to the table and negotiate a real compromise that saves America from this impending economic catastrophe.” (Sen. Manchin, Press Release, 4/27/2023)


Meanwhile, After Loudly Demanding For Weeks That The House Produce A Plan On The Debt Limit, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Has Chosen To Do NOTHING In The Senate

“The House GOP bill — which marked the conference’s opening salvo in debt limit negotiations — put the ball in the Senate’s court as the stalemate over the borrowing limit drags on. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said the measure is ‘dead on arrival,’ but House Republicans are pushing the chamber to respond to their legislative offer.” (“Attention Turns To The Senate After House GOP Passes Debt Limit Bill,” The Hill, 5/01/2023)

  • HOUSE SPEAKER KEVIN McCARTHY (R-CA): “Sen. Schumer, if he thinks he’s got a plan, put it on the floor, see if you can pass it, and then we can go to conference. But now, the president can no longer put this economy in jeopardy. We lifted the debt limit; we’ve sent it to the Senate; we’ve done our job. The only body in here that’s done theirs…. The Senate, I gotta give ‘em credit, they did name March maple syrup month. And they have thanked UConn and congratulated them for their basketball win. But they’ve done nothing when it comes to the economy or the debt limit.” (“Attention Turns To The Senate After House GOP Passes Debt Limit Bill,” The Hill, 5/01/2023)

The Only Thing Schumer Has Done At All Is Announce Show Hearings For Democrats To Attack The House-Passed Legislation, Not Consider It Or Propose Their Own

“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday rejected the House-passed bill to raise the debt ceiling and trim federal spending, and said Senate Democrats would hold a series of hearings on the bill – not to consider it, but to warn the American public about how ‘dangerous’ it is.” (“Schumer Rejects House Debt Ceiling Bill, Plans Hearings To ‘Expose’ GOP’s ‘Reckless Legislation,’” Fox News, 5/01/2023)

“Separately on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced a move also aimed at increasing public awareness of the effects of the House GOP bill: The Democratic-led Senate will hold hearings on it starting this week…. The hearings will be the first concrete action the Senate has taken after weeks of verbal jabs directed at McCarthy and his leadership team.” (The Washington Post, 5/01/2023)


REMINDER: In 2017, Schumer Thought It Was Perfectly Acceptable For Both Parties To Negotiate Over The Debt Ceiling And Budgeting Together

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “What’s our leverage?... We only had one thing as leverage at that point, which was the debt ceiling.” (“‘The New Washington’: How Schumer’s Power Play Led to a Deal With Trump,” The New York Times, 9/09/2017)

  • “In concert with Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, Mr. Schumer began formulating a plan to apply pressure, jettisoning the idea of backing a straightforward, or ‘clean,’ debt limit measure and settling instead on the idea of a short-term three-month increase. They saw that model as a way to gain muscle in coming negotiations toward a more comprehensive year-end legislative package. With another debt limit deadline looming, Mr. Trump and Republican leaders would again need Democratic votes.” (“‘The New Washington’: How Schumer’s Power Play Led to a Deal With Trump,” The New York Times, 9/09/2017)

QUESTION: “You talked a lot in the past about the dangers of uncertainty for the economy. Wouldn't a longer-term debt ceiling have created less uncertainty?”
SCHUMER: “No. … But the bottom line is we have a lot of issues to come together on. It -- you almost always works out best in a bipartisan way when we can do those issues together. And so having the debt ceiling and funding of government expire at the same time gives another ample opportunity for bipartisanship, not for one party jamming its choices down the throats of the other.” (Sen. Schumer, Press Conference, 9/06/2017)


And Joe Biden Once Considered It Completely Reasonable To Use The Need To Increase The Debt Limit As ‘A Protest Of The Policies That Have Brought Us To This Point’

THEN-SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), 2006: “The tsunami of debt created by the policies of this administration has to go somewhere. … But as the rest of the world copes with the waves of U.S. debt, we are now all in the same leaky boat. There is just so much of our debt other nations want to hold. The more of it they accumulate, the closer we are to the day when they will not want any more. When that happens, slowly or rapidly, our interest rates will go up, the value of their U.S. bonds will drop, and we will all have big problems. We need both more awareness, and more understanding, of this fundamental threat to our economic well being and the global economy. But the roots of that threat lie in the disastrous policies of this administration. Because this massive accumulation of debt was predicted, because it was foreseeable, because it was unnecessary, because it was the result of willful and reckless disregard for the warnings that were given and for the fundamentals of economic management, I am voting against the debt limit increase. In the 5 years he has been in office, President Bush has added more to our foreign debt that the 42 Presidents before him. … But he refused to take responsibility for his policies. He refused to admit that a changed world demanded a change of course. His refusal has pushed us deeper and deeper into the hole. … My vote against the debt limit increase cannot change the fact that we have incurred this debt already, and will no doubt incur more. It is a statement that I refuse to be associated with the policies that brought us to this point.” (Sen. Biden, Congressional Record, S2239-2240, 3/16/2006)

BIDEN, 2004: “I was not able to participate in today’s debate and vote on the extension of the national debt limit. I was attending the funeral of a great civil rights leader in Delaware, Jane E. Mitchell. Had I been here to vote, Mr. President, I would have cast a symbolic vote against an extension of the debt limit. Today’s fiscal mess, the transformation of historic surpluses into record deficits, is not an accident. It is the inevitable outcome of policies that consistently ignored evidence and experience. When we launched out on a course of tax cutting, with expanding domestic and international obligations and responsibilities, many of us in Congress argued that we could not afford to do everything, that we needed a fiscal policy that matched our revenues with our expenditures. … We are here today because that advice was ignored, those hard choices were ducked, and the bill for our decisions will be sent to our children and grandchildren, in the form of the additional debt we will authorize today. It did not have to be this way, Mr. President. In the next Congress, the threat of massive deficits, which have made us increasingly dependent of foreign lenders to stay afloat, will still be with us. My symbolic vote against raising the debt limit would have been a protest of the policies that have brought us to this point, and a demand that we change course.” (Sen. Biden, Congressional Record, S11418, 11/17/2004)



Related Issues: Debt And Deficits, Senate Democrats