White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday tried to reposition President Joe Biden’s recent decision to negotiate on raising the debt ceiling with House Republicans as a summit between opposing “visions.”
On Monday, Biden finally requested that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) negotiate the debt limit to avoid default during a scheduled meeting on May 9, a move that contradicted the White House’s previous official position.
But Jean-Pierre told reporters during the White House press briefing that Biden’s position had not changed.
“I wouldn’t read much into it,” she said about the scheduled meeting. “It is clear that the only practical path to avoid default is for Congress to suspend the debt limit without conditions.”
She suggested the meeting will have two parts: a negotiation on the budget and a side dialogue — but not a negotiation — about raising the debt limit.
“During his meeting with the leaders, the president will discuss initiating a separate process to address the budget and appropriations,” she said.
“The president is not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling. We’ve been very clear. That is not going to change,” she said. “He’s [Biden] willing to have a separate conversation [about] their [Congresses] spending.”
Jean-Pierre also told reporters she expects Congress to raise the debt ceiling but did not mention Democrat Senate leaders’ failure to consider a bill the House passed last week to raise the debt limit.
“This is up to Congress to act,” she said. “When it comes to the debt, Congress must act.”
When questioned about whether the White House would be in favor of a short term deal to raise the debt ceiling, she told reporters the White House would not negotiate in public.
“We are not going to negotiate in public,” she said. “The president reached out after analyzing what they [House Republicans] put forth and we’re going to have the president meeting with them next week.”
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.
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