With less than 24 hours left until the deadline of January 19 for the federal government to raise the $31.4 trillion debt limit, the U.S. Congress is not in session. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, if Congress doesn’t act, the debt ceiling will be hit on January 19 and the department will need to take “exceptional measures.”
According to the parliamentary schedule, the district work session for the newly elected, Democratic-led Senate runs from January 4 to January 20. The Senate won’t reconvene until February 6. Until January 24, the GOP-controlled House is not in session.
The Democratic Congress enacted a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill in December that didn’t raise the debt ceiling with the support of votes from Republicans in the 50-50 Senate. Through the remainder of fiscal year 2023, the bill increased domestic and defense spending above levels seen in fiscal year 2022.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had been pushing for a short-term funding bill to give the GOP-led House a chance to negotiate a broader spending agreement in January, even though his party was still in the House minority at the time. Despite the GOP gaining control of the House, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell remained open to a long-term financing plan, and in the end, 18 Senate Republicans supported it.
Conservative Republicans have demanded spending reductions in return for supporting a rise in the debt ceiling, but President Biden and his congressional supporters prefer an outright increase in the debt ceiling without any conditions.
McCarthy stated that he is prepared to meet with Biden to talk about the matter, but the White House informed journalists on Tuesday that Biden is not amenable to negotiations.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed on Tuesday that there would be “no negotiation” about raising the debt ceiling and that the White House wanted Congress to do so “without restrictions.”
The House GOP may refuse to vote to extend the debt ceiling if Biden won’t negotiate, which would cause a partial government shutdown until some type of compromise is found. It is unknown if lawmakers would come back from break early to negotiate a debt ceiling deal.
Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah, a Republican, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that “there will be Republicans who will say we need to reform, we need to use this as a vehicle to attempt to put some restrictions on our spending, on our debt, and our deficits.” And I am one of them, along with a large number of others.
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