With the U.S. debt crisis deadline looming next week, President Joe Biden is leaving Washington, D.C., on Friday to spend Memorial Day weekend kicking his feet up.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has been asking Biden to negotiate… and some House Democrats are privately expressing “disbelief” at Biden’s decision to leave D.C. during such a critical time.
“Please tell me that’s not true,” one House Democrat told Politico anonymously after learning about Biden’s plans to leave for the weekend. “You’re going to see a caucus that’s so pissed if he’s stupid enough to do that.”
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Other Democrats have criticized Biden’s negotiating strategy more generally. They fault Biden for remaining silent and allowing McCarthy to control the narrative.
“It’s time to bring the president off the bench, or bring somebody off the bench. No one’s responding to anything. Kevin’s consistently on message,” a second House Democrat told the magazine anonymously. “We have the Oval Office. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“They need to use the power of the presidency. I don’t buy this argument that [public silence] helps the negotiation,” Steven Horsford, D-Nev., told the outlet. “I need the American people to know that Democrats are here fighting, working, prepared to reach an agreement to avoid a default and only the White House, the president, can explain that in this moment.”
“The president should be out there, “Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the House Appropriations Committee’s top Democrat, told Politico. “The scale of the cuts is staggering, which really the public knows very little about.”
The GOP-led House recently passed the Limit, Save, and Grow Act, a bill intended to avert a default by raising the debt limit.
Inside the bill, the House included some Republican priorities, like cuts to spending and including work requirements for SNAP (the official name for the food stamp program).
Administration officials defended Biden’s silence and called it strategic. One person familiar credited the White House with “picking the right moments to speak out.”
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Democratic leaders aren’t thrilled.
“Other than the press secretary, I really have not [seen any White House surrogates discussing the issue],” Rep. Joseph Morelle, D-N.Y., told the magazine. “The American people need to understand just what’s at stake, and I’m not sure that for the broad public that case has been made.”
Some Democrats, predictably, urged the media to do their bidding for them.
“Help us,” Delauro told the press on Thursday. “I don’t want you to feel that you’re being co-opted, but you have a responsibility as well.”
But they’ll have a hard time convincing the American people to excuse Biden’s absence.
The Horn editorial team