Progressives are ramping up public pressure on Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as fears heighten that President Joe Biden will capitulate to Republicans in debt ceiling negotiations.
Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash), Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Greg Casar (Texas), and other top liberal lawmakers gathered Wednesday (May 24) to address growing concerns about Republicans’ reluctance to abandon the debt ceiling deal. The press briefing also addressed questions about how far Biden would be willing to go to appease Republicans.
“None of this is normal,” Jayapal told reporters at a lengthy press conference, highlighting the unnecessary cruelty of the GOP.
She claimed Republicans weren’t interested in the U.S.’s debt or deficit but in “keeping cash flowing to the Wealthiest Americans and [the] biggest corporations.”
Newly elected progressive congressman Casar described the countdown to a possible default on June 1 as “dangerous” and a “manufactured crisis.”
The Texas progressive insisted the negotiations weren’t a “simple political disagreement.”
Progressives have strongly criticized congressional Republicans’ push for tax cuts for the ultra-rich and their insistence on imposing “work requirements” for social safety net programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which in theory, could make it more challenging for Americans to access these benefits.
The request led by McCarthy became one of the most offensive to progressives in the days of negotiations, prompting them to heighten their own rhetoric against it.
The efforts came to a head last week when, in a rare move, dozens of left-leaning lawmakers wrote a letter asking the President to trigger the 14th Amendment — which would effectively allow the current debt limit to be raised regardless of the will of Congress — preserving vital programs.