White House criticizes Republicans, says ‘preventing default’ is not a concession

By Andrea Shalal and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The White House on Wednesday criticized Republicans and said averting default is the responsibility of every single member of Congress and that preventing such a situation is not a concession.

House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, said on Tuesday a concession he will make is raising the borrowing limit. His statement indicates that Republicans are not willing to give much more than raising the debt ceiling in exchange for their demands.

“Don’t take our word for it. Just listen to members of The House Freedom Caucus… (they) are now openly referring to the full faith and credit of the United States as a hostage,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Jean-Pierre said the result of default would be “millions of jobs lost, devastated retirement accounts, and a recession.”

The White House’s strategy is to keep negotiating to reach a deal, while appearing reasonable and keeping out of the limelight, a source familiar with the White House’s negotiations said.

“We are speaking to moderates and most importantly are focused on getting a deal,” the source said. “The idea is to appeal to moderates while isolating MAGA Republicans.”

Negotiators for President Joe Biden and McCarthy reconvened at the White House earlier to try to strike a deal to raise the United States’ $31.4 trillion debt ceiling and avoid a catastrophic default.

Time is running short, as the Treasury Department has warned the federal government could be unable to pay all its bills by as soon as June 1 – just eight days away – and it will take several days to pass legislation through the narrowly divided Congress.

Jean-Pierre said the White House still believes there is an opportunity to get to a bipartisan budget agreement.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Lisa Shumaker)