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Dem Rep Breaks With Biden, Calls For ‘Reduced Spending’ In Debt Ceiling Bill

Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine has broken with his party and President Joe Biden on the debt ceiling, arguing that Democrats need to make a deal with Republicans and reach a compromise with their demands on discretionary spending cuts.

Golden, in his third term and a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, has called on Biden to acknowledge that House Republicans have the legitimacy to demand spending cuts and made a political mistake by not acting with a debt-ceiling measure before House Republicans passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act — a measure that Congressional Republicans have uniformly supported.

“We should engage in this debate rather than trying to avoid it by demanding a clean debt ceiling raise,” Golden said to Politico’s Playbook. His remarks are a sharp departure from Biden, who has consistently called for a debt ceiling increase “without demands and conditions” and refused to entertain spending cuts, as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has introduced legislation to suspend the debt ceiling altogether.

“We know that the Republicans won the [2022] election. They have a House majority, which means they have leverage on spending — and they’re going to use it,” Golden wrote. He added that Democrats should “welcome them to the table for a real solution, which I think means reducing spending — because that is the environment we’re in, with a divided government anyways (sic) — and raising revenues to put towards that reduction.”

Golden’s comments come as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the U.S. could default on its debt as early as June 1st if Congress does not pass a debt ceiling bill, which she and other experts believe would lead to a recession. While Yellen, like the Biden administration, has emphasized that only House Speaker Kevin McCarthy must compromise on spending cuts, Golden’s comments put the onus on Democrats to participate.

The comments signal a departure of some Congressional Democrats from the Biden administration’s hard-line against McCarty on the debt ceiling, including a long refusal to respond to McCarthy’s demands for a meeting to negotiate. Golden joins Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia in his criticism of Biden, with Manchin saying that Biden’s inaction “signals a deficiency of leadership, and it must change…negotiate now.”

That demand was met on Monday, with the administration announcing after Yellen’s statement that Biden was inviting McCarthy, Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to an in-person negotiation in May 9.

A few other House Democrats, such as Rep. Mary Pelolta of Alaska and Rep. Marie Glusenkamp Perez of Washington State, have in the past echoed Golden, who leads the Blue Dog Caucus of centrist Democrats.

It is unclear, however, whether Biden is willing to compromise with McCarthy and accept some spending cuts that House Republicans have demanded. The cuts include the elimination of tax incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden-Harris student debt relief proposal, and the imposition of work requirements on welfare benefits.

Golden, the White House, Jeffries, McCarthy, and Schumer have been contacted for a comment.

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