Congress and the White House are under pressure to reach a solution to avoid defaulting on the nation's debt. President Joe Biden has shortened his international trip, and now the question arises whether the late-May recesses will also be affected.
After Tuesday's talks, there is some optimism about the new structure of discussions between President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy. However, time is running out, and each chamber of Congress has limited days in Washington before the potential June 1st deadline.
A few House Democrats are attempting an alternative approach by using a "discharge petition" to bypass the debt ceiling and spending negotiations. However, gathering the necessary signatures and completing the required timeline makes it unlikely to be successful before the projected deadline.
Here's where things currently stand on Capitol Hill:
House GOP: House Republicans believe they have fulfilled their role by passing a bill, and they are waiting for President Biden to make a move in agreeing to their proposed spending restrictions. Speaker McCarthy sees the appointment of negotiators by President Biden as a positive step but acknowledges that reaching an agreement is still uncertain. Republicans dismiss the idea of supporting the discharge petition and emphasize the need for negotiations.
House Democrats: While Democrats are pursuing the discharge petition, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has not made a decision on whether to proceed with it. Democratic leaders are expected to initiate the move soon. Some Democrats express concerns about effectively communicating the impact of proposed cuts and emphasize the need to counter the perception created by Republicans. The White House sought to address progressive concerns by stating that Biden will fight to keep GOP proposals on expanding work requirements for food security programs out of the final deal.
Senate GOP: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) maintains a passive role, avoiding taking a leading position in negotiations. Leader McConnell is confident that default will be avoided and considers the current situation unnecessary.
Senate Dems: Senate Democrats are mindful of the limited time available and express skepticism about reaching an agreement in time. They expect Speaker McCarthy to decide whether he is willing to proceed to default. Some senators believe that Speaker McCarthy faces constraints and has limited negotiation capacity, which hinders progress on a deal.
Ultimately, political pressure on both sides of the aisle will force a compromise to take place. While the timing and present circumstances definitely call for some anxiety, neither side will tolerate a default on our debt.