Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said Sunday that she believes President Joe Biden should sit down with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and negotiate Republicans’ proposed spending cuts, but she insisted those talks should be in relation to the federal budget – not raising the debt limit.
“Of course, President Biden should sit down with Speaker McCarthy,” Klobuchar told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” ahead of the House’s expected vote this week on McCarthy’s bill to raise the debt limit. “But let me put an idea out there. The proposal that McCarthy has put forward, that belongs in the budget. … Our main goal right now is to make clear that we are going to avoid default.”
“They should start those negotiations now,” the senator added.
McCarthy introduced a proposal last week to raise the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt limit by an additional $1.5 trillion in exchange for cuts to domestic spending programs across the board.
But Biden and his top advisers have said they will not negotiate a debt ceiling increase and will only accept a clean proposal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit.
The US hit its debt ceiling in January and can’t continue to borrow to meet its obligations unless Congress raises or suspends it. The Treasury Department is avoiding default – which would happen this summer or early fall – by using a combination of cash on hand and “extraordinary measures,” which should last at least until early June, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in January.
A breach of the US debt ceiling risks sparking a 2008-style economic catastrophe that could wipe out millions of jobs and set America back for generations, Moody’s Analytics has warned.
McCarthy said Sunday he believes he will secure the necessary votes to pass his debt limit bill, telling Fox News, “We will hold a vote this week, we will pass it and send it to the Senate.”
The California Republican also repeatedly criticized Biden over his refusal to negotiate a debt limit plan. The White House has attacked the GOP debt limit proposal as a nonstarter and something that would take the country to a “totally irresponsible” debt default.
“I’m beginning to wonder about the words that he says and the thoughts that he’s using, because the idea that he won’t even negotiate for more than 80 days, he is now putting the country in default. We are the only ones being responsible and sensible about this,” McCarthy said.
Meanwhile, Klobuchar, in her interview Sunday, also addressed concerns regarding the continued absence of her Senate colleague Dianne Feinstein, who is recovering from shingles. The California Democrat’s absence has kept her party from advancing certain Biden judicial nominees out of the Judiciary Committee, on which she serves.
“She has served our country well. She has said she’s coming back. And we await her return,” Klobuchar said when asked whether she agrees with Democrats who have called on Feinstein to resign.
Feinstein’s return, Klobuchar said, would “resolve the problem” over the holdup in moving certain nominations through the Judiciary panel.
Klobuchar added, however, that “at some point, when we have debt ceiling votes and the like, there may be another consideration that she will have to make with her family.”
With Biden preparing to launch his reelection campaign this week, Klobuchar said the president will have an “incredibly strong record” to run on, ignoring concerns raised over his age.
“He is a steady hand, when you look at what’s out there right now, with Donald Trump and what we’re hearing again. People don’t want that chaos back again,” she said.
CNN’s Tami Luhby and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.