Biden says 'MAGA Republicans' are wiling to risk a debt default in order to hurt his reelection bid

  • President Biden said the GOP would have to move away from "extreme positions" over the debt limit.

  • After the G7 summit on Sunday, Biden sought to set the tone for ending the impasse in Washington.

  • "All four congressional leaders agree with me that default is not an option," the president said.

President Joe Biden on Sunday called on congressional Republicans to compromise in the ongoing debt limit talks, warning the GOP that they won't be able to enact their priorities on a purely partisan basis in a divided Congress.

During a press conference in Hiroshima, Japan, — where Biden had been assembled with other world leaders at the Group of 7 summit — the president said that he planned to speak with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California en route to Washington in order to reignite the negotiation process.

"Now it's time for the other side to move from their extreme positions, because much of what they've already proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable," Biden said. "I'm not going to agree to a deal that protects wealth tax cheats and crypto traders while putting food assistance at risk for nearly 1 million Americans."

"My guess is he's going to want to deal directly with me in making sure we're all on the same page," he continued. "It is time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely on their partisan terms. They have to move as well."

After talks stalled in the nation's capital last week, Biden remained committed to attending the G7 summit, but cut his trip short by forgoing forays to Australia and Papua New Guinea so that he could return to the negotiating table.

"All four congressional leaders agree with me that default is not an option," Biden said during his conference. "And I expect each of these leaders to live up to that commitment."

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday projected that the US might be unable to pay its bills on time if an agreement to lift or suspend the debt ceiling is not put into place by June 1.

"I certainly haven't changed my assessment, so I think that that's a hard deadline," Yellen said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Biden said Sunday that he believed he could challenge the constitutionality of the US borrowing limit, but didn't think such an action would succeed in time to stop a default on the federal debt.

"I think we have the authority. The question is, could it be done and invoked in time?" he said, adding he'd look to "find a rationale and take it to the courts" after lawmakers resolve the current impasse.

Biden also said that he spoke with other G7 leaders and he couldn't definitively say the US would not default on its debt, a nightmare scenario that would have international ramifications.

"I can't guarantee that they will not force a default by doing something outrageous," he said, referring to congressional Republicans who have sought to enact deep spending cuts as part of any agreement to lift the borrowing limit.

Biden and McCarthy have hit an impasse over work requirements for Medicaid recipients, while the GOP is also aiming to reduce IRS funding and looking to push the White House to accept border control policies from the party's conservative immigration bill that narrowly passed the House earlier this month.

The president, as he spoke of the realities of governing in the nation's capital headed into a presidential election year, also suggested some Republicans were angling for a default to hurt his reelection chances.

"I think there are some MAGA Republicans in the House who know the damage that it would do to the economy, and because I am president, and the president's responsible for everything, Biden would take the blame," he said.

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