May 29, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Dems told to say debt ceiling bill rejects GOP's "extreme demands"

Staffers prepare for a House Democratic news conference on May 25, 2023. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

House Democrats' messaging guidance on the newly released debt ceiling bill instructs them to say the legislation rejects "extreme demands" from Republicans, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: It is a look at how Democrats plan to counter claims by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that the bill is a total GOP win that contains no concessions for the other side.

Driving the news: Axios obtained a copy of the messaging guidance sent to House Democrats' offices on Monday morning by the Democratic Policy & Communications Committee.

  • The guidance offers a single-phrase pitch for the bill: "House Democrats are working responsibly to avoid a devastating default on our debt[.] Extreme MAGA Republicans are recklessly threatening a job-killing recession[.]"
  • It also says the bill rejects "Republicans’ extreme demands to cut critical lifelines for everyday Americans" and "extreme MAGA Republican proposals to cut domestic funding by 22 percent."
  • Among the other examples of wins the guidance points to: Not touching Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, veterans' health care and student debt relief.

The backdrop: The guidance largely codifies the case House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) has been making about the deal.

  • "It protects the American people from the types of devastating spending cuts that were proposed by Republicans in their Default on America Act," he said in a CBS "Face the Nation" interview on Sunday.

What we're watching: How conservative House Republicans, who have been agitating against the bill, react to these arguments.

  • After a senior House Democrat told Axios they believe the "vast majority" of the party will support the bill because it contains "modest" concessions, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) responded: "Notice how oddly calm Democrats are for a change? This is why…"
  • "Just one big happy uniparty family!!" tweeted Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas). "Yay, debt!!"

The state of play: Democrats will need to persuade enough of their members to vote for the bill to make up for lost votes on the GOP side.

Go deeper