Hakeem Jeffries: Democrats’ Wait-and-See Response to Debt Ceiling Deal

When asked whether or not his party would back a debt ceiling compromise reached by Republicans and the White House, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) was evasive.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said at a press conference on May 27 that he and President Joe Biden had agreed to postpone the debt ceiling until 2025, which he called worthy of the American people.

The plan includes several measures, including a debt ceiling suspension, a restoration of pre-crisis expenditure levels for non-defense programs, stricter job requirements for government aid, and the recovery of unused COVID-19 relief monies.

Jeffries avoided making a firm stance on the plan during an interview, claiming that Democrats would wait to review the particulars.

Jeffries has stated that he believes the Democrats will back the plan once they have had a chance to receive a complete briefing from the White House.

The legislative text of the deal was anticipated to be released on the afternoon of May 28, following a 2 p.m. meeting between McCarthy and Biden to iron out the final details of the package.

Jeffries stated that he would not speculate on the number of Democrats supporting the package until they have seen the text.

But Jeffries said he was glad the settlement would prevent a catastrophic default and was eager to examine the details.

Jeffries stated that with the House Democratic Caucus, they would be able to have a practical discussion. However, President Biden has delivered an outcome that prevents a catastrophic default, which in turn prevents the economy from crashing and stops the extreme MAGA Republicans from triggering a job-killing recession, which, as has become increasingly evident over the last week or two, seemed to be a position that they were taking for political reasons.

The comments stand in contrast to earlier statements made by McCarthy, who said, the Democrats were very upset; Hakeem had told him there was nothing in the bill for them.

Jeffries responded that he had no idea what McCarthy was referring to in his remarks, especially since he hadn’t had the opportunity to review the actual legislative text. He claimed that, at this point, only an agreement in principle had been achieved. 

Jeffries acknowledged that a bipartisan compromise was necessary to avert a catastrophic default despite Democratic misgivings about the package’s contents.

The kind of backing the package will have once it reaches the House floor is still up in the air.

Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and other left-leaning progressive Democrats have clarified that they would not back a compromise simply because the White House does.

Likewise, some Republicans have criticized the arrangement as surrendering to Biden and Democrats.

It has been reported that five Republican members of Congress, including Representatives Lauren Boebert (Colorado), Ralph Norman (South Carolina), Bob Good (Virginia), Dan Bishop (North Carolina), and Chip Roy (Texas), will not vote for the bill.

McCarthy dismissed this resistance on Sunday, claiming 95 percent of the caucus was happy with the deal.