A group of moderate Democrats has reportedly banded together to craft a fallback plan should negotiations over the nation’s debt ceiling implode.
The group of centrists has been busy behind the scenes, breaking ranks with Democratic leadership and working on a plan that would appeal to centrist House Republicans should the nation reach the brink of debt default, according to Politico, which reports, “The White House wants no part of it.”
“You’ve got party leaders in both houses that don’t want us to talk to one another,” one centrist Democrat said on the condition of anonymity.
For their efforts, the group has been blasted by their own party and the Biden administration for their failure to present a unified front in the high-stakes debt ceiling debate — especially at a time when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer believes they are “gaining ground” in the battle.
“We’re gaining ground because of [House Republicans’] inability to put together a plan,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Politico. “I’m certainly willing to entertain a mix of things on the budget. Not on the debt ceiling.”
And therein lies the rub.
While Democrats are insisting on a “clean debt limit bill,” House Republicans claim “that would never pass their chamber,” Politico reports.
“Complicating it all: Republican leaders won’t yet describe precisely what they want in exchange for their votes to raise the nation’s borrowing ceiling,” the outlet explains. “Schumer, in response, has taken up the chant ‘show us your plan’ for more than two months and counting.”
And that’s where the centrist Democrats, who have been privately meeting with GOP centrists since February, come in.
Specific details of their backup plan have yet to be honed, two lawmakers familiar with the discussions said, and the discussions are still in the early stages.
The group is shrugging off suggestions to stop talking.
Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) co-leads the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, and he says his group is working for the people who elected them.
“None of us work for the White House. We work for our constituents,” he said. “And they should start talking and negotiating.”
According to moderate Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) he’s working with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus because “we’ve got to have a plan B.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans are struggling to agree on a budget blueprint because their colleagues continue to expand their wish list.
Notes Politico, “[F]or some hardline conservatives, there may be no level of austerity that would cut deep enough.”
“McCarthy and his team still want to draft their own package of deficit-reducing proposals, which his advisers say would mix ideas such as social program cuts with policies to increase U.S. energy production or tighten border security,” the outlet states. “Even so, the House GOP may not be able to unify behind such a plan.”
With Congress gone until April 17, it’s a standoff that most lawmakers believe will drag into the summer.
“The most active deal-cutting senators are either sitting out or in the dark,” Politico states.
“The only hints of an idea I hear is an effort among [House] Republicans to come up with something they can vote for and send it over here,” said Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), long considered to be a RINO (Republican In Name Only) among conservatives. “I don’t know of any bipartisan [effort] here. Not with me.”
Speaker McCarthy has only met once with President Biden on the subject, and White House aides are dismissing his demand to meet again, claiming there would be no point in a second meeting until the Republicans come to a consensus on their approach.
“How does he win here?” asked one White House economic adviser of McCarthy. “They don’t really have a strategic plan.”
But Problem Solvers member Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) is calling on McCarthy and Biden to work together on a solution to the stalemate.
“Otherwise, it’s going to be a disaster,” he said. “It already is, right?”
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