House GOP: Congressing Is Hard

Today Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP made much noise over the White House’s failure to “negotiate” over the debt ceiling. Josh Marshall writes,

This morning, Speaker Kevin McCarthy went on Twitter to castigate the President for his “extreme position” on the debt ceiling, which is that he won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling. It’s a remarkable turnabout. Republicans took the hostage and now they’re waiting for the SWAT team and negotiators to show up. But they’re nowhere to be seen. And now they’re saying to themselves, what do we do now? It’s the equivalent of the hostage takers ringing up the cops and telling them to please hurry up.

The House GOP has yet to propose an official budget. I understand there are multiple groups of Republicans working separately on budgets, to be released in April, maybe. And the House Freedom Caucus released something they seem to think is a budget, discussed below. But they’ve all been so busy investigating why Twitter refused to published Hunter Biden’s dick pics, you know.

Lindsey McPherson reports for Roll Call,

Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday wrote to President Joe Biden asking him to set a date for their next negotiating meeting on the debt limit by the end of the week.

The California Republican reiterated that his conference is set on pairing any debt limit increase with policies that would cut spending, save taxpayers money and spur economic growth, while offering four examples of the types of proposals he and Biden could discuss.

McCarthy’s examples, which he stressed were not exhaustive, included cutting nondefense discretionary spending to “pre-inflationary” levels and limiting out-year growth; rescinding unspent pandemic aid; strengthening certain benefit programs’ work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents; and other legislation, such as an energy policy overhaul to spur more domestic production and border security measures that would stop the flow of fentanyl. 

I don’t want to hear anything from Republicans until the Congressional Budget Office crunches the numbers to let us know the real impact. That hasn’t happened, of course.

Biden has repeatedly said he will not negotiate conditions for raising the debt ceiling. The president has said he is willing to have separate negotiations with Republicans on spending, but that he wouldn’t sit down with McCarthy again until the GOP released a budget proposal.

“It’s time for Republicans to stop playing games, agree to pass a clean debt ceiling bill, and quit threatening our economic recovery,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “The president welcomes a separate conversation about our nation’s fiscal future. Earlier this month, he released a budget that cuts the deficit by nearly $3 trillion while lowering costs for families and investing in America.”

McCarthy has said Republicans should not need a budget to negotiate on the debt limit, especially when they’ve put forward ideas and the president has not yet engaged.

It sounds to me as if the President has “engaged” a lot more than the Republicans have. He’s put out something concrete, and the CBO has scored it. 

Citing the “rapidly approaching deadline” — experts predict the debt limit “x” date will hit sometime between June and September — McCarthy warned Biden that he is “on the clock.”

“It’s time to drop the partisanship, roll up our sleeves, and find common ground on this urgent challenge,” he wrote. “Please have your team reach out to mine by the end of this week to set a date for our next meeting.”

I agree with the President that there’s no point in meeting with anybody until there are real proposals with real numbers. Oh, wait, there’s the House Freedom Caucus. Back to Josh Marshall:

 The House Freedom Caucus is telling everyone who will listen that Kevin McCarthy is a chump who doesn’t control anything. If you want to resolve the crisis you need to talk to the people in charge — not the butler or the assistant — which is them, the House Freedom Cacuus.

Last week the House Freedom Caucus held a press conference along with Senate fellow travelers Mike Lee and Rick Scott in which they demanded that President Biden come to the next meeting of the House Freedom Caucus, last Wednesday night, and start negotiating. Rep. Lauren Boebert, who spoke for the group, said the Freedom Caucus was “the only caucus who has released a plan to address this situation.” True enough. They’re making the same argument as the White House, albeit with a different aim. How are you going to negotiate with McCarthy when he hasn’t even decided on his negotiating position?

Yes, the House Freedom Caucus has a Plan, and the White House already has responded to it. And the response is, basically, you’re kidding, right? The House Freedom Caucus  plan is so extreme it even defunds the police. Josh Marshall:

So what’s going on here? The Freedom Caucus budget blueprint is toxic. They don’t care because they’re almost all from safe districts. (Ironically, Boebert is one of the very few who is not.) But McCarthy needs to think about the whole caucus, the next election and the presidential election. McCarthy’s aim is to pressure Biden into negotiations without saying what it is he, McCarthy, actually wants. If McCarthy can get Biden into a negotiation, they’re probably going to come out of it with a bunch of cuts most voters don’t like. But it’s okay because Biden owns them just as much as McCarthy.

That’s the gambit. So far it’s not working.

In other news, Mike Pence has been ordered to testify to Jack Smith’s grand jury. “Executive privilege” claims by Trump’s legal “team” have been swept aside. Also,

The judge affirmed the idea that Mr. Pence had some protection under “speech or debate” based on his role in overseeing the certification of the election inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. But Judge Boasberg also said that Mr. Pence would have to testify to the grand jury about any potentially illegal acts committed by Mr. Trump, the person familiar with the matter said.

Just hurry it up, people.