The White House on Wednesday blasted House Republicans after a vote to pass legislation pairing a debt limit increase with broader government spending cuts, calling the bill dead on arrival and urging Congress to pass a clean bill to avoid default.
“House Republicans have passed a bill that cuts veterans’ health care, education, Meals on Wheels, and public safety, takes away health care from millions of Americans, and sends manufacturing jobs overseas while they fight to extend the Trump tax cuts for the wealthiest and profitable corporations,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
“President Biden will never force middle class and working families to bear the burden of tax cuts for the wealthiest, as this bill does,” she continued. “The President has made clear this bill has no chance of becoming law.”
Jean-Pierre cited an old quote from former President Ronald Reagan about the importance of the U.S. meeting its obligations to argue Congressional Republicans have a responsibility to raise the debt limit.
“In our history, we have never defaulted on our debt or failed to pay our bills,” she said. “Congressional Republicans must act immediately and without conditions to avoid default and ensure that the full faith and credit of the United States is not put at risk. That is their job.”
The House on Wednesday voted to pass the Limit, Save, Grow Act, with 217 Republicans backing the bill and 215 lawmakers opposing it. Republican Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Tim Burchett (Tenn.) joined every voting Democrat in opposition.
The legislation would cap government funding hashed out by lawmakers annually as part of the appropriations process at fiscal 2022 levels, a move Democrats warn could amount to steep cuts to popular programs.
The measure would also limit spending growth to 1 percent annually over the next decade with a slew of other proposals aimed at curbing spending, including rolling back several Biden administration actions on student loans and beefing up work requirements for government assistance programs.
The bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but the White House has said Biden will veto it in the event it reaches his desk.
Treasury Department officials have estimated that the government has until roughly June to raise the debt ceiling or risk a default, which could have catastrophic consequences for the economy.
Prescient Biden and White House officials have been adamant that Congress must pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling without conditions, pointing to decades of precedent under Democratic and Republican administrations. Biden has signaled he is willing to sit down with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for a separate conversation about government spending.
“I’m happy to meet with McCarthy, but not on whether or not the debt limit gets extended. That’s not negotiable,” Biden told reporters Wednesday at the end of a press conference with the South Korean president in the White House Rose Garden.