Biden steps up pressure on House GOP in debt limit battle

White House officials and congressional aides are wrestling with the issue of a catastrophic debt default that could arrive as early as June 1. President Joe Biden’s recent meeting with lawmakers has yet to yield any significant progress and, as a result, he is now turning his attention to a new phase of his lobbying campaign against House Republicans. Biden is urging Congress to rescind the lending authority of the nation without any strings attached.

To push his case, Biden is traveling to Valhalla, New York, where he will argue that a measure passed by House GOP lawmakers would raise the debt limit for about a year while reducing some federal spending. He maintains that such a move would force cuts to assistance for veterans, educators and other household priorities. Biden will also emphasize that an unprecedented debt default would threaten millions of jobs and raise the prospect of a recession.

Senior White House officials and congressional aides are beginning to discuss a potential solution in preparation for another meeting between Biden and top Capitol Hill leaders later this week. However, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has shown few signs of compromise, and Biden stressed again that their proposed plan was not acceptable to him. He argued that the limitations would result in deep cuts that would hurt American families.

Biden views the potential cuts to veterans’ care as a particularly thorny issue. He highlighted this in his recent remarks, noting that the across-the-board cuts would affect veterans’ assistance and other vital domestic programs. McCarthy called this statement a “lie,” but Biden disputed the accusation.

The debt talks appear to have made little progress, so the White House is hoping Biden’s public relations campaign will increase pressure on GOP lawmakers, who cannot afford to alienate moderate voters. The first stop in Biden’s campaign will be a congressional district that is crucial for Democrats looking to win control of the House from Republicans next year. Lawler, a first-term Republican whose district Biden won in 2020, is a prime target for the White House.

Lawler accepted the White House’s invitation, although he expressed disappointment that Biden will be focusing on his district instead of negotiating with other leaders in Washington. Despite Lawler’s presence at the event, Biden’s message will remain consistent. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that the President will “drive home the impact of these current discussions that we’re having […] the economy, how it affects real hard-working Americans. This is what you will hear from the president. He will be very clear about it. It will be clear about what could potentially happen.”

The current GOP debt measure aims for $4.5 trillion in deficit savings through spending cuts, eliminating tax breaks for clean energy investments, and reversing the Biden administration’s proposal to forgive student loan debt. The White House has made it clear that Biden would veto such legislation. On the other hand, Democrats, who control the Senate from 51 to 49, are calling for an increase in the “clean” debt limit without any conditions. Any such measure would need the support of at least nine Republican senators, but most of them have already indicated that they will object.

Biden’s campaign will also include a couple of fundraisers, which he will hold during his time in New York. Despite the high stakes of the debt negotiations, Biden made it clear that he is also considering other events on his calendar and went on record to say that postponing his trip overseas is “possible but not likely.”

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