Karine Jean-Pierre AGAIN defends Biden leaving D.C. for Memorial Day with seven days


House Democrats tore into Republicans for returning to their districts on Thursday even as debt negotiations are still ongoing, but President Biden himself has not canceled his travel plans for the weekend. 

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Thursday knocked Republicans for skipping town before a deal is done. 

‘It’s my understanding that the designees of both President Biden as well as Speaker McCarthy will continue to talk, but it is unfortunate that House Republicans have chosen to get out of town before sundown when we are facing a dangerous default and the possibility of our economy crashing,’ Jeffries told reporters at a news conference. 

House Republican leaders announced Thursday that they were sending members home for Memorial Day – but instructed them to be prepared to return to D.C. on 24-hours notice in the event of a breakthrough.

House Democrats, too, are getting out of town – though not all of them are happy about it. 

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Thursday knocked Republicans for skipping town before a deal is done

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Thursday knocked Republicans for skipping town before a deal is done

'Republican colleagues, I'm staying. I'm missing my goddaughter's wedding because I have a job to do. Where are you?' Rep. Debbie Dingell said on the House floor Thursday

‘Republican colleagues, I’m staying. I’m missing my goddaughter’s wedding because I have a job to do. Where are you?’ Rep. Debbie Dingell said on the House floor Thursday

‘Why aren’t we staying this weekend?’ Rep. Jahana Hayes asked in a closed-door whip meeting, according to Politico Playbook. ‘We should stay here and ask Republicans how they can go home.’

‘She’s right,’ quipped Rep. Debbie Dingell. 

‘Republican colleagues, I’m staying. I’m missing my goddaughter’s wedding because I have a job to do. Where are you?’ the Michigan Democrat said on the House floor Thursday. 

Dingell reportedly was set to officiate her goddaughter’s wedding in Italy over the Memorial Day weekend but canceled those plans over the failure to reach a debt ceiling deal. It’s unlikely that Dingell has any role in debt negotiations beyond voting on a final package. 

Meanwhile the White House on Thursday defended Biden’s expected travel plans  just one week before the so-called X deadline when Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen has said the U.S. could default on its bills – June 1. 

‘What I can say is that the President can deal with this issue anywhere he is,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. 

It is an argument that White House has made in the past, since the president travels with a bevy of aides and communications equipment. But Biden elected to cut short his planned trip to Australia and Papua New Guinea last week amid the need to negotiate the impasse.

‘House Republicans are holding American families and the global economy hostage so they can leave town for the weekend,’ Top Democratic appropriator Rosa DeLauro wrote on Twitter. 

Speaker McCarthy and his top negotiators – Reps. Patrick McHenry, N.C., and Garret Graves, La., remained at the Capitol after rank-and-file members took their leave, with McCarthy telling reporters ‘every hour matters’  and that they will ‘work 24/7 to solve this problem.’

McCarthy said a deal could come together ‘at any time’ but McHenry said it was unlikely to be today. 

‘I don’t think a deal will be done today. We are not quite in that zone yet,’ McHenry told reporters. ‘But the work we’re doing centers on a shorter and shorter array of issues.’

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was pressed for the second day in a row on President Joe Biden's weekend travel plans, with no deal in hand to avert a potential government default, with the 'X' deadline just seven days away

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was pressed for the second day in a row on President Joe Biden’s weekend travel plans, with no deal in hand to avert a potential government default, with the ‘X’ deadline just seven days away

Biden met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy just once this week, on Monday late afternoon after returning from Japan. 

Jean-Pierre’s comment came a day after she snapped a similar question on Wednesday.

‘On the debt ceiling, you used words like catastrophic and devastating today, but the president again is going to Camp David this weekend and then going to Delaware,’ a reporter asked her then. ‘If the situation is so dire, then why is the president…’ the reporter asked before Jean-Pierre cut her off.

‘I just answered that question,’ she said. ‘Do you have another one? I literally just answered that question,’ she said.

Although Biden and McCarthy met just once this week, the daily talks have been handled by two senior members of his staff and two House Republican lawmakers. McCarthy also revealed that he has spoken to former President Donald Trump about the budget in comments he characterized as brief. Trump was in town Thursday hosting the Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament at his Virginia property.

President Joe Biden insisted talks with Republicans were 'about the outlines of what the budget will look like - not about default.' He spoke in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 25, 2023, on his intent to nominate U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., right, to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Vice President Kamala Harris listen.

President Joe Biden insisted talks with Republicans were ‘about the outlines of what the budget will look like – not about default.’ He spoke in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 25, 2023, on his intent to nominate U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., right, to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Vice President Kamala Harris listen.

‘The American people should know that we’re not taking any hostages here. Default is not an option,’ Jean-Pierre, in one of her jabs at Republicans, amid calls by some progressive Democrats for Biden to up his communications game.  

Her comment came a day after she called out Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz for telling Semafor his colleagues were in agreement and, ‘They don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage.’ 

The line seemed to suggest that Gaetz could be owning up to the hostage-taking – using the threat as leverage – that the White House has accused them of in the past.

Biden himself addressed the state of talks at the start of an event formally announcing his nomination of CQ Brown, Jr. to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

He said the talks were ‘about the outlines of what the budget will look like – not about default.’

Then he said ‘McCarthy and I have a very different view of who should bear the burden of additional efforts to get our fiscal house in order. ‘ 

He said GOP proposals would lead to ‘huge cuts’ in teachers, police, and border patrol. 

‘I don’t believe the whole burden should fall on the backs of the middle class and working class Americans,’ he said.

 He cited his own proposal to cut $1 trillion in spending and making the wealthy ‘begin to pay their fair share’ – although McCarthy says his revenue proposals are not on the table.

‘I’ve made clear time and again defaulting on our national debt is not an option,’ Biden said. 

House conservatives and progressives have begun to squawk about the type of deal that could emerge, with the White House saying it must pass on a bipartisan basis. 



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