Time is running out for President Biden and Republican lawmakers to strike a deal to raise the debt limit before a June 1 deadline when the U.S. won’t be able to pay all its bills, likely triggering an economic quake.
That didn’t President Biden and House Republicans from fleeing Washington to enjoy the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
House lawmakers left town Thursday, though they could be called back with 24 hours’ notice if the negotiating teams reach an agreement to increase the U.S. government’s $31.4 trillion debt limit. Mr. Biden is headed to Camp David on Friday and then to his Delaware home for the rest of the holiday weekend.
Though the negotiating teams for the White House and House Republicans will work into the weekend, each side engaged in some vacation finger-pointing.
Rep. Barry Moore, Alabama Republican, said House Republicans have already done their job by passing a debt ceiling bill. He also noted that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, is sticking around to continue negotiations.
“Speaker McCarthy and his negotiation team are staying in Washington this long weekend to get things done for the American people. Biden is headed to vacation at Camp David,” Mr. Moore wrote on Twitter.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna McDaniel said: “Biden cares more about his vacation than the American people. House Republicans passed a common-sense debt ceiling proposal to save taxpayers’ money, but Biden is again heading out of town to vacation without a deal to avoid a default. American families are suffering the consequences of Biden’s lack of leadership, and he couldn’t care less.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended Mr. Biden skipping town while also repeating that it was “urgent” to reach a deal to avert default.
“The president can deal with this issue anywhere he is and so I’ll just leave it at that,” she said.
Democrats, meanwhile, were fuming that Republicans were sent home for the holiday weekend.
“While we are facing a debt crisis all of the Republicans have left to go out of town. They got into their cars and limos and catching planes to go home while we are teetering on the brink of disaster. What kind of leadership is that, Kevin McCarthy?” Rep. Kweisi Mfume, Maryland Democrat, said in remarks on the House floor.
If a deal is reached, Mr. Biden and Mr. McCarthy will have to sell it to their respective caucuses, which will take time. The legislation would also need to be approved by the Senate before it could head to Mr. Biden’s desk for his signature.
News of a potential compromise that would raise the debt ceiling for two years in exchange for clawing back unspent coronavirus relief funds, made ultra-conservative lawmakers angry because it would take the heat off Democrats until after the 2024 election.
Mr. McCarthy has disputed the authenticity of a document purportedly outlining a series of compromises reached by negotiators.
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