There are two issues that the House will have to act on this year that are either important business or crucial leverage, depending on who you ask.
The first is funding the government. A bill passed in the final days of 2022 paid for its operations through this September, but Congress will have to act again to ensure the money is there for everything from federal employees’ salaries to keeping offices open. Failure to do so would result in the first government shutdown since 2019.
But as serious as that would be, it’s nothing compared to the consequences if the United States defaults on its debt. And it could do so as soon as June if Congress doesn’t agree to raise the debt ceiling, which is the legal limit for how much money it can borrow to pay for the government’s needs.
Democrats say they’re ready to raise the debt ceiling without conditions, and to negotiate in good faith over another government funding bill later this year. But for Republicans, these two issues are two of the most obvious ways to extract concessions from the White House and Senate, who otherwise have little reason to say yes to their demands.
Good morning, US politics blog readers. After two years of Joe Biden and the Democrats in full control of Congress, Republicans are eager to use their majority in the House of Representatives to hold his presidency to account and bend his allies to their will. From spending cuts to investigations, they have big plans to ensure Congress enacts conservative policies – plans that Democrats fear will amount to only one thing: deadlock. If the two sides can’t overcome what look to be substantial differences, Democrats are warning that the government could shut down, or the nation could even default on its debt, for the first time ever. This dynamic will probably define Congress for the next two years, but expect to hear more about it today, as Republican leaders detail committee assignments and other business in Congress’s lower chamber.
Here’s what else is happening today:
The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, will brief reporters at 3pm eastern time, who will no doubt demand more information about the administration’s response to Biden’s possession of classified documents.
The House oversight committee chair, James Comer, is demanding information about Chinese donors to the University of Pennsylvania and the Penn Biden center, where some of the president’s secret material was located.
The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, continues his visit to Washington DC, with a wreath laying planned at Arlington national cemetery.