White House seizes on Gaetz ‘hostage’ remark on debt ceiling
White House officials Wednesday put a spotlight to remarks by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) in which he said some Republicans do not feel they should negotiate with their “hostage” in debt ceiling talks.
Biden administration officials pointed to Gaetz’s comments to argue that the GOP has created a “manufactured crisis” around efforts to raise the debt ceiling.
“This is a manufactured crisis, plain and simple,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a briefing.
“They’re saying the quiet thing out loud, referring to the full faith and credit of the United States as a ‘hostage,’” she added, as Gaetz’s quote was displayed on a screen over her shoulder.
Gaetz told Semafor this week that he thinks “my conservative colleagues for the most part support ‘Limit, Save, Grow,’ and they don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage.”
The White House also distributed a memo from deputy press secretary Andrew Bates highlighting comments from Gaetz and other Republicans who have balked at the prospect of working with the White House to find a compromise that would raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default.
The memo cited Getz’s comments, as well as those from Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), head of the House Freedom Caucus, who said members would accept the bill passed with only Republican votes late last month.
Bates argued that the GOP bill, which is dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate, would mean laying off thousands of police officers and teachers, as well as taking away health care from millions of Americans.
“This is the all-important difference between House Republicans on the one hand, and President Biden and congressional Democrats on the other: Just like for the entire Trump Administration, Democrats have taken 0 hostages,” Bates wrote.
“House Republicans need to be called out for the vicious threat they are making to sabotage America, and to put down the gun they’re holding to the head of middle class jobs,” he added.
The White House and negotiators for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have been working in recent days to find agreement on a spending deal that would also allow Congress to raise the debt limit.
Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen has warned lawmakers that the U.S. could default as early as June 1 without any congressional action. A default would likely lead to widespread job losses, increased borrowing costs and a stock market downturn that would affect retirement savings.
Both President Biden and McCarthy have been adamant that they don’t want to see the nation default, though the two sides have been unable to clinch a deal as the deadline draws closer.
Negotiators held talks at the Office of Management and Budget offices on the White House complex Wednesday.
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