Schumer directs Democrats to ensure voters are frightened of a debt default
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is directing his Democratic caucus to share “sobering” projections on a potential debt default with their constituents in a bid to ratchet up pressure on Republicans during tense negotiations on the federal borrowing limit.
Schumer sent a letter to Senate colleagues on Friday, which was meant to be the second time all four Congressional leaders sat down with President Biden to discuss the debt ceiling. But the meeting was called off on Thursday afternoon, signaling that interim discussions between congressional and White House staff have so far failed to make enough headway for a meaningful follow-up.
“Earlier this week, I met with President Biden, Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy, Leader [Mitch] McConnell, and Leader [Hakeem] Jeffries to discuss the pressing need to avoid the nation’s first ever-default. Our message to our Republican colleagues was plain and simple: Take Default Off the Table,” Schumer wrote.
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He encouraged fellow senators to share with constituents a Democrat-backed report that claims Republicans’ “threats to cause a default could trigger a massive recession that would cost 8.3 million Americans their jobs.”
“For a fulsome analysis of the fallout of default, I encourage you to read the updated Joint Economic Committee report and to share the sobering findings far and wide with your constituents in your state,” Schumer wrote.
Republicans have for months insisted they will not agree to raising the debt limit on its own, but rather pair it with future spending cuts. But Democrats have argued that a “clean” increase of the $31.4 trillion debt is an obligation of the federal government and called for spending talks to be held during the normal appropriations season at the end of the fiscal year.
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Washington is on a time crunch in these negotiations; there’s less than a week’s worth of days when the president, the House and the Senate are all in town at once before the U.S. is projected to potentially run out of cash to pay its obligations on or around June 1.
But as of Friday, it appears that any newfound sense of urgency has not moved the needle for either side.
“White House staff, along with aides from my office, the Speaker’s office, Leader McConnell’s office, and Leader Jeffries’ office will continue to meet in an attempt to find a constructive way forward. At the same time, our Senate committees, led by our Budget, Appropriations, and Finance Committees, will continue their work highlighting the devastating impact of Republicans’ Default On America Act,” Schumer wrote.
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Schumer’s message came roughly around the same time as a letter to Biden from the moderate Republican Main Street Caucus, chaired by Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., reminding the president that a “clean” debt limit increase will not make it through the divided Congress.
“Publicly and during the meeting, you doubled down on your demand that Congress pass a clean debt limit increase. However, such a proposal does not have enough support to pass the Senate or the House,” the caucus members wrote. “Several Democratic members from both chambers have publicly expressed their concern with rising spending and their support for negotiations. As the X-date approaches and members hear from their constituents, that sentiment continues to grow.”