Jeffries Noncommittal on Democrat Support for Debt Ceiling Deal

Jeffries Noncommittal on Democrat Support for Debt Ceiling Deal
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) speaks to the press after meeting President Joe Biden and other leaders at the White House in Washington on May 16, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Joseph Lord

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) was noncommittal on whether Democrats would support a debt ceiling deal negotiated between Republicans and the White House.

On the evening of May 27, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced during a press conference that he and President Joe Biden had reached what he called “an agreement in principle that’s worthy of the American people” to suspend the debt ceiling until 2025. In addition to suspending the debt ceiling, the bill would cap non-defense spending at its previous levels, enhance work requirements for government assistance, and reclaim unspent COVID-19 relief funds, among other measures.

During an appearance on CBS's Face the Nation, Jeffries evaded committing to the package, saying Democrats need to see what's inside first.

“I do expect that there will be Democratic support, once we have the ability to actually be fully briefed by the White House,” Jeffries said.

The legislative text of the deal is expected to be released on the afternoon of May 28, following a scheduled 2 p.m. meeting between McCarthy and President Joe Biden to hammer out the final details of the package.

Until Democrats see the text, Jeffries said he's "not going to predict" how many Democrats might support the package.

Nevertheless, Jeffries gave an indication that he applauded the deal for avoiding "a catastrophic default" and looked forward to seeing the specific contents of the deal.

“With the House Democratic Caucus, we’ll be able to have a robust discussion, but let me say this, President Biden has delivered a result that avoids a catastrophic default that prevents us from our economy crashing and stops the extreme MAGA Republicans from triggering a job-killing recession, which as we’ve seen over the last week or two increasingly seemed to have been a position that they were taking for political reasons."

The comments stand in contrast to earlier statements made by McCarthy, who said, "Right now, the Democrats are very upset. The one thing Hakeem told me: 'There is nothing in the bill for them.'"

Jeffries replied that he had "no idea" what McCarthy was talking about in the comments.

“I have no idea what he’s talking about, particularly because I have not been able to review the actual legislative text. All that we’ve reached is an agreement in principle,” he said.

Despite Democrat concerns about the contents of the package, Jeffries conceded that "a bipartisan resolution was the only way forward to avoid a catastrophic default."

It's unclear what kind of support the package will garner when it reaches the House floor.

Left-wing progressive Democrats like Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) have made clear that they won't support a deal just because the White House does.

Likewise, some Republicans have criticized the deal as a "surrender" to Biden and Democrats.

Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), and Chip Roy (R-Texas) have all indicated that they won't be supporting the package.

McCarthy dismissed this opposition on Fox News Sunday, saying that "95 percent" of the caucus was happy with the deal.

Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times.