Senate Dems say Biden should talk to McCarthy, but only about the debt, not spending cuts

A growing number of Democrats is urging President Biden to accept House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s demand for more talks about the looming federal fiscal crisis, but only to talk about how to raise the government’s borrowing limit, not possible spending cuts. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., emerged over the weekend calling for Biden to speak with the Republican leader after he put out a 320-page bill that would raise the debt ceiling while capping spending and imposing work requirements for government benefits, among other measures. Neither signaled support for the spending cuts that Republicans are seeking. But Democrats appear to believe that if they can get Biden to agree to the meeting itself, without a commitment to cut spending, it would be a better course of action than simply remaining in a stalemate until a possible debt default. “Of course, President Biden should sit down with Speaker McCarthy,” Klobuchar said Sunday on CNN Sunday. But she also indicated she favors Biden’s position, which is to handle the debt ceiling first, and only then talk about possible spending cuts. JEAN-PIERRE GETS DEFENSIVE ON BIDEN DEBT CEILING STRATEGY, SHIFTS BLAME TO MCCARTHY “The proposal that McCarthy has put forward, that belongs in the budget. We just passed a budget with 18 Republicans voting for it in the U.S. Senate,” she said, referring to the $1.7 trillion spending bill passed in December. She made it clear the debt ceiling should be everyone’s top priority. “Right now, we have got to simply make clear we’re going to avoid default and get this behind us. We pay our bills,” Klobuchar said. Durbin took the same approach by saying more meetings are fine as long as they are focused on raising the debt ceiling. “Of course we should talk” to Republicans, Durbin said on NBC Sunday. “Listen, we don’t need to default in this country. If we default on our national debt, it’s going to cost our economy dearly. That is a terrible outcome.” MCCARTHY MOCKS ‘MISSING IN ACTION’ DEMS ON DEBT CEILING IN FLOOR SPEECH: ‘MAPLE SYRUP MONTH’ “So let’s do the responsible thing and not default, move forward on the debt ceiling,” he added as he called for spending talks later. “Now, we can have a fulsome debate on the budget, and we will. And I understand it on the spending levels, but not at the expense of jeopardizing jobs and economic growth in America. Don’t default. Avoid default on our national debt.” Senate Democrat support for Biden’s one-at-a-time stance came just days after moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released a statement late last week calling Biden’s failure to hold a second meeting with McCarthy a “deficiency of leadership” and even agreeing that federal spending should be reined in. Manchin said he supports the idea of linking cuts with more government authority to borrow, a position that puts him against that of others in his party in both the House and Senate who for now want to keep those issues separate. TOP SENATE REPUBLICANS COALESCE AROUND MCCARTHY AFTER HE UNVEILS DEBT LIMIT PROPOSAL Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., told Politico last week, “I am happy we are talking about the debt ceiling, because I think it’s very critical to talk, and so do I think the speaker of the House and the president should sit down and talk about the debt ceiling? Of course they should.” “I don’t think there’s any harm in the two of them sitting down to talk… The idea that we’re even coming this close to a potential default is insane,” Rep. Greg Landsman, D-Ohio, told the outlet.
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