The Sides Dig In On Debt
None of the sides showed any signs of shifting in the standoff over raising the nation's debt limit Tuesday, as leaders in each party pointed to the planned May 9 meeting at the White House as the opportunity to make progress.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that's the only place progress can start.
"There is no solution in the Senate," McConnell told reporters. "We have divided government. The American people gave the Republicans the House. The Democrats have the presidency. The President and the Speaker need to reach an agreement to get us past this impasse. That's my message going down to the White House meeting. It'll be my message in the White House meeting. And I think that's clearly the way we get to a solution."
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer signaled no new positions, but said he plans to spend the next week ahead of the White House meeting highlighting the bill the House passed last week, which he said most Americans would reject because of the deep cuts it demands in exchange for raising the debt limit.
"Starting this week, we will be doing what the House didn't do -- showing the American people what this bill is made of," Schumer told reporters. "We'll show the American people how Republicans' Default on America Act will decimate federal law enforcement in this country, erasing nearly 30,000 law enforcement jobs, and leaving border security hanging out to dry. They'll see how the DOA is a direct assault on families, slashing child care, cutting Pell grants and gutting vital programs like Meals on Wheels."
But as far as taking concrete steps to raise the debt limit, Schumer said that will wait until after the sitdown with President Biden to chart a full course forward. He noted that he's already set up a bill to extend the debt limit through December of next year, and has also put the House bill on the calendar. For now, though, taking up the House bill would only come after passing the Senate's version, an only serve as a vehicle to pass a spending agreement.
"We're gonna wait till our meeting on the ninth, and then we'll make a determination as to the other bill," Schumer said. "After we pass a clean debt ceiling, and get ... debt ceiling way back, then we could use this bill for a proper discussion of the appropriations and budget process where people have plans, different positions on spending and on revenues."
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who announced earlier in the year that the country had already hit the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit set by Congress, warned Monday that the Treasury could run out of options for keeping all bills paid as soon as June 1 because of lack-luster tax receipts.
Waiting until after May 9 to begin earnest work on a solution leaves just three weeks to get the debt limit raised before risk of America defaulting on its debt, sparking all sorts of grim scenarios.