Rhetoric over US debt limit boils over as Republicans, Democrats joust
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[March 25, 2023]
By Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Partisan sniping over raising U.S. borrowing
authority ratcheted up on Friday when House of Representatives Speaker
Kevin McCarthy accused President Joe Biden of ignoring the issue, even
as Republicans have failed to detail budget cuts they want before
allowing a debt limit increase.
At a news conference in the U.S. Capitol, the Republican speaker
attacked the Democratic president for not holding negotiating sessions
with him since an initial meeting early last month.
"Unfortunately the president doesn't think it's important," McCarthy
said when asked about how talks on the debt ceiling were going.
The government faces a historic default on its debts without legislation
to raise the $31.4 trillion debt limit.
Biden and leading Democrats in Congress have urged McCarthy to unveil
Republicans' plans for cutting spending, saying that additional meetings
before that happens would be fruitless.
"House Republicans have long called producing a budget a basic function
of government, even suggesting that if members of Congress don’t pass a
budget, they shouldn’t get a paycheck," Andrew Bates, deputy White House
press secretary, said in an email.
"President Biden has produced a detailed budget that reduces the deficit
by $3 trillion over the next decade while continuing to invest in
America, and House Republicans should do the same so everybody can truly
see how the numbers add up."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Thursday that
Democrats welcome budget talks anytime. But McCarthy "has got to show us
his plan. To just sit down and not have a plan, what's the point? What
are you going to say, 'Thanks for the coffee?'"
[to top of second column]
U.S. President Joe Biden talks with
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as they depart following the
annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in
Washington, U.S., March 17, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
The House Budget Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, has
not yet produced a fiscal 2024 budget blueprint to shape the debate
over federal spending beginning in October and the need to raise the
Meantime, Republicans want Democrats to signal support for
significant spending cuts before providing the votes needed in
Congress to increase the Treasury Department's borrowing authority.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the
Treasury Department will exhaust "extraordinary measures," which are
keeping debt payments on schedule, sometime in the July-September
Earlier on Friday, the White House issued a statement accusing the
hard-right House Freedom Caucus of proposing "devastating cuts" to
the federal budget that it said would weaken national security while
saddling working- and middle-class families with higher costs.
Their plan would reset non-defense spending to pre-COVID-19 pandemic
levels and eliminate multiple Biden programs.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan; Editing by Jonathan
Oatis, Andrea Ricci and Josie Kao)
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