House Democrats have become increasingly frustrated with how President Joe Biden and the White House are handling the debt ceiling negotiations with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
Many Democrats, especially those who may face difficult elections in 2024, have complained that the White House has “bungled” the messaging war against Republicans. They believe that Democrats could be forced to agree to most of the House Republicans’ demands.
“I’ve never seen such a massive, surprising and consequential potential failure. We’ll see where this comes out, but by definition we’re only measuring success on how much we lost,” one Democrat said.
Other Democrats point to Biden traveling to Japan for the G-7 world leaders meeting and that the president has not spoken publicly about the debt ceiling recently.
The Washington Post noted the contrast between Biden, who has avoided the debt ceiling conversation, and McCarthy, who, along with his top negotiators — Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) — has spoken to reporters multiple times per day for weeks.
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) said, “It’s frustrating.” He added that the speaker “feels free to negotiate in public, and that’s not really a productive way to try to come to a conclusion.”
Republicans have dug in their heels, refusing to accede to Democrat demands regarding the debt ceiling. In their case, they believe the only concession they would agree to is, according to McHenry, “the debt ceiling.”
“That’s what they’re getting,” Graves said.
The American people seem to be aligned with Republicans, as a CNN poll found that 60 percent of Americans say that a debt ceiling increase should come with spending cuts.
One lawmaker said that Democrats should be playing hardball with Republicans.
“When someone’s demanding only cuts, that’s when you introduce demands for revenue generation or the corporate tax rate, rescind the Trump tax cuts,” one lawmaker said. The member of Congress said that the White House should include gun control and other Democrat priorities in the talks.
“This is not a negotiation exercise. This is a concession exercise,” the member added.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the Congressional Progressive Caucus chair, said there could be significant repercussions if Democrats accede to Republican demands.
“I think the backlash will be significant if somehow we were to get bullied into a bad deal,” she explained. “I think it’s very bad for the…people of America. I also think it’s a terrible dynamic for negotiations going forward.”