Splits emerge as U.S. House Republicans demand Biden negotiate on debt limit

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives are divided over the debt ceiling but unanimously demanded on Wednesday that Democratic President Joe Biden agree to a spending spree under to negotiate the program of his congress. no agreement

Republican conservatives, who have the power to block any deal in the narrowly divided House, want to force Biden and the Democratic-led Senate to cut spending in exchange for a deal to avoid a $31.4 trillion debt.

Some moderates want to tread carefully and avoid any potential damage to the US economy, but even they say their party won’t support a debt deal without negotiating spending.

“I know we can’t ask for the moon,” said Republican Rep. Don Bacon, who won the Nebraska district Biden won by 6 percent in 2020.

“But the president can’t refuse to negotiate either. I mean, if he refuses to negotiate, you’re not going to get Republican support for anything,” Bacon told Reuters.

The federal government on Jan. 19 neared the $31.4 trillion debt limit set by Congress, and the Treasury Department warned that it could pay off all government bills only by early June, at which point the world’s largest economy could be at risk. non-fulfillment of obligations, including debt securities.

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A brinkmanship could send investors into a panic, potentially sending markets down and shaking the global economy. A reduction in the United States’ debt levels can lead to it – as happened in the long-running fight to raise the debt level in 2011, which also led to forced cuts in domestic and military spending.

Congress has raised the debt limit three times during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump. But Republicans are now using the issue as leverage in their first major act since winning a narrow 222-212 majority in the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Biden are expected to meet and discuss the debt ceiling, among other issues. But no meeting has been scheduled yet. The White House has repeatedly rejected the idea of ​​negotiating spending levels to secure a deal on the debt ceiling.

THE SENATE WILL BE DISAPPEARED

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who played an integral role in previous debt negotiations, predicted that any solution would have to come from McCarthy and Biden, saying the Republican-controlled House was unlikely to get any solution from the Senate-led Senate. democrats accept.

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Republican Representative Mike Lawler, whose New York district Biden won by 10 points, said: “The point everyone is making is that the White House has to negotiate with the president. They can’t just avoid the House of Representatives.”

“There has to be a strong understanding that we have to contain spending,” Lawler told reporters.

Pressure is already mounting for a deal, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has called for immediate action from Congress.

“When it comes to the debt ceiling, the debt ceiling, the president has been very clear — I’ve been very clear, you’ve heard from our economic team about this — how to do it without conditions,” White House spokeswoman Karine said. said Jean-Pierre.

McCarthy is expected to initiate any negotiations and demand that discretionary funding be restored to 2022 levels to achieve a balanced federal budget over the next decade.

But Republican supporters, who used McCarthy’s tumultuous election as president to make concessions that weakened his position, began to push for deeper cuts in non-defense spending while they waited for negotiations.

“We can spend at defense spending levels for the ’23 omnibus. We can go back to pre-Covid spending levels and you can get to better levels than ’22,” Rep. Chip Roy, a leading conservative. , told journalists.

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But moderates say Republicans must take a different approach to finding a deal that can pass the Senate and be signed into law by Biden.

“You don’t get these things passed in the Senate, so let’s be real,” Bacon said.

He suggested instead that the costs should be in line with inflation. “It’s reasonable. It’s not unreasonable. It bends the curve in the right direction,” Bacon said.

Another moderate, Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, is sponsoring a bipartisan proposal that would change the nation’s debt limit from a fixed dollar amount to a percentage of gross domestic product.

Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah conservative, described the hard-line and moderate proposals as the opening salvo that would eventually lead to a deal with Biden.

“When we get details on somebody on the right or some of the moderates, there might be some disagreement. But that’s why we’re negotiating and trying to figure out, you know, where the middle ground is,” Stewart told Reuters.

Reporting by David Morgan; additional reporting by Jason Lange; Edited by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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