New House Dem leader Hakeem Jeffries faces first big test over debt ceiling: report
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (AFP)

Less than six months after being elected House Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries is facing his first big test over the debt ceiling, The New York Times reports.

Assuming President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) can reach a tentative deal to extend the debt ceiling, the 52-year-old progressive from New York will be responsible for selling it to fellow Democrats.

He won’t have much time.

The U.S. government has less than a week to resolve the debt ceiling debate before it risks defaulting on its debt, a scenario that economists believe could plunge the global economy into chaos.

Complicating matters is the fact that Jeffries doesn’t yet know how many votes he’d need to deliver for a deal he didn’t play a material role in crafting from the Democratic caucus, because he doesn’t yet know how many Republicans will defect once the measure hits the floor, the report said.

Carl Hulse of The Times writes that, “The situation is particularly galling to Democrats because, while it is hard-right Republicans who have pushed the nation to the brink of default by refusing to raise the debt limit without spending cuts, they are all but certain to oppose any final compromise. Even if Republicans meet their threshold of winning over a majority of their members for the package, it could still require backing from scores of Democrats to pass.”

Jeffries acknowledged the challenge in an interview with The Times.

“House Republicans haven’t provided any clarity as to how many votes they think they can actually produce,” Jeffries said.

“I can say with a great deal of clarity that if dozens of Democratic votes in the House will be necessary, we cannot reach an extreme resolution in this instance in order to satisfy the needs of right-wing ideologues.”

So far, Jeffries has gotten high marks from senior House Democrats.

“He’s clearly on top of these issues,” said Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.).

“He understands the politics of where we are, and I think there is pretty broad support in the caucus for the posture he’s adopted.”

Said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.): “He responds, he answers questions and he tells you the truth.”

Read the full article here.