Karine Jean-Pierre Struggles To Defend Biden Skipping Town During Debt Crisis

May 26, 2023

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struggled to defend President Joe Biden’s weekend travel plans as Democrats voice their anger over his leaving town and failure to negotiate with House Republicans on the debt ceiling. 

"What I can say is that the president can deal with this issue anywhere he is," Jean-Pierre told reporters about Biden’s plans to visit Camp David and Delaware this weekend. Negotiations between the White House and House Republicans over the debt ceiling may continue through Memorial Day weekend as the potential default date of June 1 looms. 

Republicans insist Biden must reel in spending in exchange for raising the debt limit, while the Biden administration has called for raising the limit with no strings attached. Treasury secretary Janet Yellen claimed failing to raise the debt ceiling will lead to an "economic catastrophe."

Democrats have been frustrated with Biden's plans to travel before a deal has been secured.

"Please tell me that’s not true,'' a Democrat lawmaker anonymously told Politico after hearing of Biden's plans to leave town. "You’re going to see a caucus that’s so pissed if he’s stupid enough to do that."

Democrats have also expressed anger about Biden’s lack of leadership in negotiations with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.). "It’s time to bring the president off the bench, or bring somebody off the bench. No one’s responding to anything. Kevin’s consistently on message," a House Democrat told Politico. "We have the Oval Office. I’ve never seen anything like it."

Progressive Democrats are especially upset with the White House after it shot down their dream of using the 14th Amendment to green-light a debt ceiling increase.  

"The question was whether the United States would use the 14th Amendment and I think [Biden] and secretary [of the Treasury Janet Yellen] have been very clear, that that will not solve our problems now," Wally Adeyemo, deputy treasury secretary, told CNN Friday, before adding it was a definite "no."