Congress Goes On Vacation Days Away From Financial Meltdown

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The House of Representatives began its week-long Memorial Day recess Thursday afternoon without an agreement to raise the debt ceiling.

The U.S. Treasury could breach the debt ceiling by June 1, Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly warned, which could lead to a stock market crash and millions of jobs lost. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy previously floated canceling the Memorial Day recess if he and President Joe Biden could not reach an agreement, but ultimately told lawmakers they should prepare to return to Washington within 24 hours to vote. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has issued a similar warning to the Senate, which will be on recess until May 29.

“We have, still, fundamental disagreements that we have yet to resolve, and it’s complicated,” Republican negotiator Patrick McHenry of North Carolina told reporters. “The fundamentals of this deal are about spending. The fundamentals of the deal are based off of the legislation the House passed to raise the debt ceiling. And that’s tough stuff for Democrats. And the White House has made that very clear. But these are thorny issues that have to be resolved.”

Democrats opposed the move to go on recess, although none objected to the lower chamber’s 2:50 p.m. adjournment. During minute-long floor speeches, House Democrats blasted McCarthy’s decision not to keep the lower chamber in session. (RELATED: Democrats Call On Biden To Raise Debt Ceiling Without Congress)

I know we want to get home to Memorial Day, we want to celebrate and honor our fallen heroes, the men and women who have served our country. But the best way for us to honor those heroes, the best way for us to honor the American public is to pass the debt ceiling,” California Rep. Ami Bera said.

“On a day like this, the last day of the week, when members get to vote by 11:00 and then they start running out the door, I used to be envious. Today, I’m astonished, astonished, in the problem before us and people are decided to take a break for Memorial Day,” Northern Mariana Islands Del. Gregorio Sablan added.

McCarthy and Biden are reportedly considering a deal that would raise the debt limit through 2024, although some conservative Republicans believe it would not do enough to cut spending.

“I think if the speaker negotiates that with the President, the speaker will find out there’s a lot of Republicans who won’t be agreeing with the speaker,” Florida Rep. Byron Donalds told Politico.