With the prospect of default drawing ever nearer, President Joe Biden on Sunday called on House Republicans to compromise and stop continuing to hold the debt ceiling hostage, warning that their current position is too “extreme.”
He also placed renewed emphasis on the possibility of citing the 14th Amendment to sidestep the debt ceiling, a controversial prospect that could rob McCarthy of his leverage.
“Now it’s time for the other side to move from their extreme positions, because much of what they’ve already proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable,” Biden said at a Sunday press conference in Hiroshima, Japan where he has been attending the G7 Summit.
“I’m not going to agree to a deal that protects wealth tax cheats and crypto traders while putting food assistance at risk for nearly 1 million Americans,” Biden continued. “It is time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely on their partisan terms. They have to move as well. All four congressional leaders agree with me that default is not an option. And I expect each of these leaders to live up to that commitment.”
Negotiators appointed by Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have been working since last week to come to a bipartisan agreement that can pass the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The negotiations have proceeded haltingly as GOP lawmakers toss out different demands. One halt came on Friday morning over spending caps. Hours later, McCarthy announced the GOP returned to the negotiating table, but that discussion only lasted an hour.
As the so-called “x-date” — when the House GOP may push the country to default on its debts — draws closer, congressional Republicans have been adjusting and expanding their demands to raise the debt ceiling.
Over the weekend, Republicans rejected a new White House offer to basically freeze domestic spending at 2023 levels — a demand they have been yelling about for months. But not only did they reject the proposal, they also added new fresh ideas to their hostage ransom list — including work requirements that are more rigid than the ones they originally proposed and new provisions that they did not have in the debt ceiling bill they passed last month.
In a Sunday interview on Fox News, McCarthy sought to spin the new demands, saying “We have never offered something different than we talked about the entire time.”
As the GOP hostage taking slows down negotiations, Biden elaborated on his position on taking advantage of the 14th Amendment, something a group of Democrats have been encouraging him to seriously consider.
On Sunday, Biden said he believes he has “the authority” to cite the 14th Amendment to argue that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional to begin with and can simply be ignored.
“I’m looking at the 14th Amendment as to whether or not we have the authority — I think we have the authority,” Biden told reporters in Japan.
But he also acknowledged the potential legal challenges that would likely follow, injecting panic into the economy and still risking default.
“The question is, could it be done and invoked in time that it would not be appealed, and as a consequence past the date in question and still default on the debt. That is a question that I think is unresolved.”
Biden and McCarthy spoke by phone on Sunday while the president was returning home from Japan. They are expected to meet in person at the White House Monday afternoon.