Politicized debt ceiling stalemate may be closer to resolution 

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet today after a weekend of on again, off again negotiations over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, according to the Associated Press. 

The two sides are working to reach a budget compromise before June 1, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the country could default. The politicization of the vote to raise the debt ceiling, however, has impeded progress in negotiations. 

House Republicans are refusing to raise the debt limit unless Biden and the Democrats impose federal spending cuts and restrictions on future spending. They say the nation’s debt, now at $31 trillion, is unsustainable. They also want to attach other priorities, many of which are opposed by Democrats. 

Biden had insisted on approving the debt ceiling with no strings attached, and Democrats aren’t willing to cut federal spending. The White House has instead proposed holding spending flat at the current 2023 levels. 

Start-stop negotiations were back on track late Sunday, and all sides appear to be racing toward a deal. Negotiators left the Capitol after 8 p.m. Sunday and said they would keep working. 

Progressives have urged Biden to invoke a clause in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment that says the validity of the public debt in the United States “shall not be questioned.” Default, the argument goes, is therefore unconstitutional. 

In Congress, meanwhile, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries has launched a process that would “discharge” the issue to the House floor and force a vote on raising the debt limit. The challenge for Democrats is that they would be five members short of the needed majority.