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Lead Negotiator For Kevin McCarthy Walks Out On Biden Administration Officials

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's authority to negotiate the debt ceiling is being challenged by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Negotiations between Congress and the White House stalled on Friday as the lead negotiator for Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has walked out of a room with Biden administration officials.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., conducts a news conference with house and senate Republicans on the “debt crisis,” on the west terrace of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. TOM WILLIAMS/BENZINGA

McCarthy’s authority to negotiate the debt ceiling is being challenged by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who argues that he lacks the necessary votes.

President Joe Biden is currently overseas in Japan for the G-7 summit, as his foreign trip is cut short to avoid a default by June 1.

“We’ve got to get movement from the White House, and we don’t have any movement yet,” McCarthy said of the negotiations “We can’t be spending more money next year. We have to spend less than the year before.”

As House Democrats push forward with a backup plan to avoid a default on U.S. bills, a petition initiated by Rep. Brendan Boyle, a top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, aims to force a vote on increasing the debt ceiling, reported Business Insider.

The congressional maneuver, known as a discharge petition, mandates 218 signatures irrespective of party affiliation. Over 200 endorsements were received on Wednesday. Democrats anticipate securing signatures from all 213 members of their party.

“There are real differences between the parties on budget issues and talks will be difficult,” The White House said in a statement regarding the debt ceiling. “The President’s team is working hard towards a reasonable bipartisan solution that can pass the House and the Senate.”

While no Republicans have indicated their intention to sign the petition, Ocasio-Cortez believes that Democrats can leverage this procedural tactic to exert pressure on their Republican counterparts.

Ocasio-Cortez emphasized that McCarthy lacks the votes necessary for a deal and, therefore, is not in a position to negotiate on the debt ceiling.

In a tweet, she highlighted the need for 218 votes to pass any legislation, and with Republicans having only around 150, they would require the support of 50-100 House Democrats.

Ocasio-Cortez asserted that Democrats already have 213 votes for a clean bill, needing only five more.

“We got a preview of this during McCarthy’s disaster of Speaker vote in January. He doesn’t know how many votes he has on what. That’s what makes this ‘negotiating’ rudderless,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter. “How do you deal with someone who cannot deliver passage? Clean bill needs 5. He can’t pass without Dems”

Ocasio-Cortez drew parallels to McCarthy’s Speaker vote debacle in January and questioned his ability to deliver the necessary support.

She described the situation as “rudderless” and emphasized the challenge of negotiating with someone unable to secure passage. As the June 1 deadline approaches, addressing the debt ceiling becomes crucial. Recently, Biden expressed optimism that he can reach a debt ceiling deal before the looming deadline.

Produced in association with Benzinga

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