OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre shouted down a reporter during a press briefing after the reporter was outraged for not being called on to ask a question.
The exchange began after a reporter asked Jean-Pierre about providing more details on President Joe Biden’s negotiations with Republicans on the debt ceiling. Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have not reached an agreement on raising the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, which will default on June 1.
“Do you mean to tell us that in the discussions between the president and the speaker, and in the discussions between the two negotiating teams, they are only discussing federal discretionary spending and that they are not at all discussing the terms under which the debt ceiling would be raised?” he asked.
“What I can tell you is what you’ve heard from the president and what you’ve heard from both sides, which has been the negotiation has certainly been about the budget,” Jean-Pierre said. “You’ve heard them talk about the budget, you’ve heard them talk about how we’re moving forward and that in this particular moment that we’re in they’ve been productive. The president has held the line and has been very clear that when it comes to the debt limit, it should be done without negotiations, without condition. That’s something that the president has said in front of all of you.”
“They’re not talking about the debt ceiling, about how long it will be raised, by how much. That’s not a subject of discussion?” the reporter interjected.
“I am telling you what the president has said to all of you,” she answered.
“I know what he said. I follow it very closely, everyday,” he shot back. “I want to know what’s happening in that room.”
In an MSNBC interview last week, Biden appeared to further soften his aggressive stance toward congression Republicans after the passage of a GOP-led bill that raises the debt ceiling limit for the federal government but also requires cuts in spending.
A week ago, Biden reversed his hardline position rejecting the measure and instead requested that McCarthy negotiate the debt limit during a meeting scheduled for May 9 to avoid default.
During a visit to Israel, McCarthy received a call from Biden to set up a meeting to open those negotiations.
House Republicans led by McCarthy passed a bill to raise the debt limit, taking the Biden administration by surprise. Reports suggested that the White House was not prepared for the unexpected victory.
A day later, Jean-Pierre told reporters: “We are not negotiating on this. We’ve been very clear on this.”
But last Friday, in an interview aired by MSNBC, Biden appeared to further soften his stance against the measure by taking a calmer tone with McCarthy
Biden refrained from making a personal attack on McCarthy and instead referred to him as an “honest man.” While the two have only formally negotiated once, McCarthy has been pushing for a follow-up meeting which has been scheduled for next week. Instead of attacking McCarthy, Biden criticized the deal he made with his fellow House Republicans to raise the debt ceiling, Politico reported.
“I think he’s in the position, well, he had to make a deal and that was pretty — you know, 15 votes. Fifteen votes that where he had — just about sold away everything that he — at the far, far right,” he said. “There’s the Republican Party and there’s the MAGA Republicans, and the MAGA Republicans really have put him in a position where in order to stay Speaker, he has to agree — he’s agreed to things that, maybe, he believes, but are just extreme.”
Biden told Ruhle he was not ready to try a workaround for raising the debt ceiling for the time being.
She then asked if he would argue that the debt limit was unconstitutional, as his aides are reportedly considering, but Biden replied that he had not “gotten there yet,” according to Politico.
“Here’s the deal, I think that — first of all, this is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different group. And I think that we have to make it clear to the American people that I am prepared to negotiate in detail with their budget,” he said. “How much are you going to spend? How much are you going to tax? Where can we cut?”