With Biden in Japan, Harris pushes White House message on debt ceiling

Vice President Harris on Thursday convened elected officials, local leaders and administration allies to warn of the dangers of a possible debt default, as he takes on a greater role in the White House’s messaging on the debt ceiling. warned.

Harris leads a virtual briefing on the debt ceiling battle, underscores the White House’s position that Congress should remove the debt ceiling, and tells local leaders to inform voters of the possible consequences of inaction. I called.

“Our position is clear and simple: Congress must act to prevent defaults,” Mr. Harris said in a briefing open to media.

“I would like to ask those of you who are leaders of this conference call to do what you always do to make sure your voice is heard,” Harris added. “Let our members of Congress understand that defaults are unacceptable under any circumstance. Let me know if the issue is that important.”

Thursday’s virtual briefing was with President Biden in Japan ahead of the Group of Seven (G7) summit by Sunday. It was the latest sign of Harris taking on a bigger role as the White House tries to urge Congress to raise the debt ceiling and warn the public of the consequences if lawmakers don’t act.

Harris joined Biden and four top congressional leaders in the Oval Office on Tuesday for a meeting on the debt ceiling and budget negotiations. The White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) then appointed a chief negotiator to try to reach a deal within days.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement Thursday, “While Joe Biden is out of the country, Border King Kamala Harris is leading the worst border crisis in history. Nevertheless, we are engaged in debt ceiling negotiations.” “The lack of leadership in the Biden-Harris administration will create crisis after crisis and American families will suffer the consequences, but they don’t care.”

The Treasury Department warned that the U.S. could default by early June unless Congress moves to raise the debt ceiling, which covers spending already approved by lawmakers.

Prime Minister Harris warned on Thursday that a default, or near default, risks raising borrowing rates, sending stock markets down, hurting retirement accounts and pushing the economy into recession.

On Thursday’s conference call, the Vice President was also joined by National Economic Council Chairman Lael Brainard and Steve Benjamin, who heads the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Mr. Brainerd told those on the conference call that negotiators were working toward a “reasonable bipartisan budget deal,” and we do that every year.

The White House negotiations are set to block any attempt to overturn the Biden administration’s policies aimed at combating climate change and cutting drug and other expenses for middle-class households, as well as any efforts to take away health insurance. instructed.

“The last thing American families want is a manufactured crisis that unwarrantedly destabilizes our hard-won progress,” Brainerd said.

For months, the White House has insisted that Congress has an unconditional responsibility to raise the debt ceiling, noting that lawmakers have done so dozens of times in the past. But in recent days, as negotiations have heated up, administration officials have signaled they will push for a higher debt ceiling while negotiating a budget deal with Republicans seeking ways to cut government spending.

The White House and the chairman’s designated negotiators are scheduled to meet later this week, and the president and congressional leaders are expected to meet again next week when Mr. Biden returns from Japan.

The president has canceled plans to visit Australia and Papua New Guinea next week to return to budget talks.

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