Battle Over Debt Ceiling Forces Dems Into The Trenches

Republicans are showing confidence ahead of Tuesday's White House meeting to raise the debt ceiling, with House Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) saying he is no longer "at the depths of the ocean."

McHenry, a close ally of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), told CBS News' Face the Nation that the passage of a bill in the House last week, albeit narrowly and without any support from Democrats, has him feeling more optimistic about negotiations.

The legislation, known as the "Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023," would suspend the debt ceiling through March 31, 2024, or until an increase in debt of $1.5 trillion over the current limit of roughly $31.4 trillion whichever comes first in exchange for a host of spending cuts that target leftist priorities.

The GOP's position has been backed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who noted that more than 43 Republicans have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) opposing a "clean" debt ceiling bill separate from any policy concessions or spending cuts.

"As Kevin McCarthy, as speaker of the House, meets with the White House, its imperative that he arrives in a position of negotiating power," Lee said on Sunday Morning Futures.

In response, Schumer announced the Senate would hold hearings on the bill to "expose the true impact of this reckless legislation on everyday Americans."

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), meanwhile, told Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd on Sunday that he does not accept the premise that Democrats will not get a clean debt ceiling hike.

Jeffries called the House GOP bill "a ransom note" and dismissed the idea of a short-term "punt" to lift the debt ceiling for a few months while talks continue.

"I dont think the responsible thing to do is to kick the can down the road," he said.

The White House meeting was called after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned last week that the United States risks defaulting on its debt as early as June 1.

Yellen suggested on ABC News' This Week that Republican lawmakers were trying to do negotiations with a "gun to the head of the American people" and explained the consequences if the U.S. defaults on its obligations.

"A failure of the United States to honor all of its debt would call into question our creditworthiness. Even as we get very close to this date, if Congress doesnt act, were likely to see financial market consequences," Yellen said.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) has suggested that President Joe Biden use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling, but Yellen warned against it, saying it would risk a "constitutional crisis."

As Tuesday's meeting nears, Republicans appear to be in a stronger negotiating position, with the House GOP bill and the support of the Senate GOP conference. Democrats, meanwhile, are digging in and pushing for a clean debt ceiling hike without any additional policy concessions or spending cuts. It remains to be seen if the two sides can reach a compromise.

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