Social Navigation

Biden awaits Republican counterproposal on budget


President Joe Biden took the first step in a battle over the federal budget on Thursday. Now it’s the turn of the Republicans.

Biden’s $6.9 trillion budget came as more than just a statement of spending priorities — it’s a challenge to the Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives, who must now respond with their own proposal that contrasts with Biden’s plan for new social programs for families and deficit reductions financed by large tax increases for the wealthy.

In a speech in Philadelphia following the release of his budget Thursday afternoon, Biden threw down the gauntlet and repeatedly urged Republicans led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to commit to a budget plan of their own.

“I am willing to meet the Speaker at any time — tomorrow, if he has his budget,” Biden said. “Put it down. Tell me what you want to do. I’ll show you what I want to do. See what we can agree on. What we don’t.”

Opposition leaders stated that Biden’s budget, released on Thursday, was dead on arrival and had no chance of remaining intact as widely expected.

“President Biden just handed his budget to Congress, and it is completely unserious,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter Thursday. “He’s proposing trillions of new taxes that you and your family will pay directly or through increased costs.”

The debate is particularly poignant because it takes place against the backdrop of a looming debt ceiling crisis that threatens the entire economy.

The government exceeded its congressional borrowing limit in January and will run out of money sometime this summer, potentially triggering a financial collapse and leading to the loss of millions of jobs if left unresolved, economists warn. Republicans have said they will not raise or suspend the debt ceiling to avert the crisis unless Democrats agree to cuts.

The power to make the budget ultimately rests with Congress, where Democrats control the Senate and Republicans control the House, while Biden exercises the veto power. The House budget proposal, when it comes, will clarify exactly how far apart the two sides are in their spending and tax plans. So far, the White House has rejected the Republican proposals as much as Biden’s, suggesting they are far from a compromise.

On Friday, the House Freedom Caucus, a group of ultra-conservative lawmakers, released a budget statement calling for a budget freeze at 2022 levels, allowing for 1% annual growth and the IRS expansion, clean energy spending of the Inflation Reduction Act and Biden’s controversial student loan forgiveness plan. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the plan a “underbelly for the American middle class” in a statement.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.