White House tries to quell Democratic fears on debt limit negotiations

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When House Speaker Kevin McCarthy concluded his 90-minute meeting at the White House on Monday, there were few indications of Democrats and Republicans making significant progress towards a debt ceiling agreement.

However, the contentious atmosphere that had overshadowed recent discussions appeared to have eased, as leaders from both sides cautiously expressed optimism while their aides continued negotiations late into the night, Semafor reported.

Addressing reporters after the meeting, McCarthy remarked, “I think the tone tonight was better than any other time we’ve had discussions.” President Biden also issued a statement, asserting, “We reiterated once again that default is off the table and the only way to move forward is in good faith toward a bipartisan agreement.”

While engaging in talks with McCarthy, the White House also sought to alleviate concerns among Congressional Democrats, who worried that any final agreement acceptable to the GOP would necessitate significant budget cuts or burdensome work requirements for safety net programs.

In an unexpected move, Biden’s staff members joined a weekly messaging call with Senate Democratic offices on Monday, according to two Democratic Senate aides, as reported by Semafor.

During the call, White House communications director Kate Berner assured participants that the administration would not take votes from its own party’s lawmakers for granted during the ongoing negotiations. “What we are very much trying to emphasize is that a bipartisan deal can’t be forged solely on their partisan terms,” Berner stated, as reported by one of the aides on the call.

Meanwhile, a group of 11 Senate Democrats continued to urge Biden to keep his options open and be prepared to bypass Congress by declaring the debt limit unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. Senate Budget Chair Sheldon Whitehouse, one of the group’s members, cautioned on Monday that a bipartisan agreement might collapse in the upper chamber.

Written by staff