House Majority Whip Tom Emmer said Sunday that President Joe Biden “doesn’t have to negotiate” over the debt ceiling, saying that “Republicans in the House, led by Kevin McCarthy, have passed the solution.”
House Republicans last week narrowly passed their bill to raise the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt limit by an additional $1.5 trillion. But the measure faces nearly impossible odds of passing in the Democratic-led Senate. Emmer disagreed with that contention in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
“To say that it’s dead on arrival in the Senate, when you’ve got even Joe Manchin suggesting support for this type of approach, I think that’s not exactly accurate,” the Minnesota Republican said. “If you don’t like something in it, if you have ideas of your own, our speaker is more than willing, I’m sure, to listen to those.”
The House GOP measure was aimed at boosting Republicans’ efforts to negotiate with Democrats as the country approaches its default deadline as soon as this summer. But the White House has said it will not negotiate a debt ceiling increase and will accept only a clean proposal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit.
Following passage of the GOP bill, Biden told reporters Wednesday that he would be “happy to meet with McCarthy, but not on whether or not the debt limit gets extended. That’s not negotiable.”
Separately on Sunday, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said Biden needs to come to the table to negotiate with Republicans on spending and the debt limit.
“The White House needs to ultimately get into this negotiation. The president has been in hiding for two months,” the Louisiana Republican said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“That’s not acceptable to Americans. They expect the president to sit in a room with Speaker McCarthy and start negotiating,” he added.
The US hit its debt ceiling in January and can’t continue to borrow to meet its obligations unless Congress raises or suspends it. The Treasury Department is avoiding default – which would happen this summer or early fall – by using cash on hand and “extraordinary measures,” which should last at least until early June, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in January.
A breach of the US debt ceiling could spark a 2008-style economic catastrophe, wiping out millions of jobs and setting America back for generations, Moody’s Analytics has warned.
Emmer, when asked by Bash if he could guarantee that the US government will not default on its debts, said, “I can, assuming that our president and the (Chuck) Schumer Senate recognize the gravity of the problem. This is no longer about politics.”
“House Republicans will not allow America to default on its debt,” he added. “We showed that last week.”
Emmer also disputed the characterization of some of the GOP bill’s provisions to reduce spending as “cuts.”
“These are spending reforms. And all we’re doing is going back to the Biden-Pelosi budget of last year,” he said, referring to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The debt ceiling legislation, dubbed the “Limit, Save, Grow Act,” proposes sizable cuts to domestic programs but would spare the Pentagon’s budget. It would return funding for federal agencies to 2022 levels while aiming to limit the growth in spending to 1% per year. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill would trim government deficits by $4.8 trillion over 10 years.
As part of the 320-page bill, the GOP is also proposing to block Biden’s plan to grant student loan forgiveness, repeal green energy tax credits and kill new Internal Revenue Service funding enacted as part of the Inflation Reduction Act last year. The plan would also expedite new oil drilling projects while rescinding funding enacted to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.