White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre touted President Joe Biden’s history of bipartisanship in negotiations on the debt ceiling after the administration has consistently rejected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) legislation to raise the debt limit to avoid default.
On May 9, McCarthy and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are scheduled to meet with Biden and top Democrats about constructing a new budget and raising the debt ceiling. Biden finally agreed to meet with McCarthy on Monday to negotiate the debt limit, a move that contradicted the White House’s previous official position.
During Thursday’s press conference, Jean-Pierre was questioned by ABC News’s Mary Bruce concerning the potential for default if Biden does not compromise with House Republicans.
“What makes the President think that getting in this room — laying out yet again what is at stake here — is somehow going to suddenly change Republicans’ calculus?”
Biden led the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations that consumed Washington in a showdown between “Tea Party” House Republicans and the Obama administration. Biden was the chief negotiator on the deal, which was only resolved in the eleventh hour as Senate Republicans and some Democrats created a ‘Super Committee’ to recommend reductions and ensure there would be no default on the debt.
Jean-Pierre responded by touting Biden’s history of compromise.
“You know this president. He has been the vice president, a senator — he’s been on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue dealing with these types of issues,” Jean-Pierre said, touting previous negotiations. “He knows these folks. He knows these leaders.”
“And the president has been able to get things done in a bipartisan way in the past,” she continued. “We have the record to show that.”
“He’s going to sit down and have an honest conversation, a frank conversation,” she added about the meeting.
Last week, House Republicans passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default. Yet the White House has rejected the bill and dubbed it the so-called “Default on America Act” — even though it would prevent default.
“There is a reason why we call the bill that House Republicans put together the ‘Default on America Act.’ Because it is,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “If they move forward with what they put forward … it is going to hurt American families.”
“You got to do your job. It is simple. You take an oath. This is it,” she said of House Republicans, while ignoring the merits of the passed House legislation. “This is the basic thing you need to do for the American people.”
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.