McCarthy demands concessions on debt ceiling; spy balloon clouds Biden's State of the Union: recap

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is slated to address the debt ceiling Monday evening as deadline on a federal default grows closer.

The Republican leader met with President Joe Biden last week to discuss the looming debt limit deadline and the GOP demand that spending cuts be made as part of a deal to extend the ceiling. While McCarthy has said Social Security and Medicare will not be affected, he has yet to spell out specific cuts to government spending.

In addition, the full U.S. Senate will get a classified briefing Feb. 15 on the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced on Sunday.

Lawmakers have been gearing up for Biden's State of the Union address this week, but the attention on the speech is now clouded by the political furor over the Chinese spy balloon, with Republicans arguing Biden was too slow to act in shooting down the balloon.

Here's what else is happening in politics:

  • Most Democrats don't want Biden to run again. A new poll shows that only 37% of Democrats say they want Biden to seek a second term.

  • Biden looks to reelection bid:  Biden's State of the Union address is expected to lay out his vision for the remaining two years in his presidency and also make the case for his reelection in 2024.

  • What to expect in Biden's address: Besides setting up for his reelection campaign, Biden is likely to talk about a variety of issues: Ukraine, the debt ceiling, immigration reform, bipartisanship in Washington and more.

  • House GOP investigations ramp up: House Republicans have started a plethora of probes into Biden and his circle, including a look at Hunter Biden's art.

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WASHINGTON - Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during a news conference outside of his office at the U.S. Capitol on January 24, 2023 in Washington, DC..
WASHINGTON - Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during a news conference outside of his office at the U.S. Capitol on January 24, 2023 in Washington, DC..

‘It’s time to get to work’: McCarthy delivers remarks on debt ceiling

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday he's willing to negotiate a deal with Biden on extending the debt limit if it targets "wasteful Washington spending," but he stopped short of spelling out what Republicans want eliminated.

“Mr. President, it’s time to get to work,” McCarthy said. “Surely, we can both agree that the national debt is too high. Surely, we both agree inflation hurts American families. Surely, we can trim waste and streamline programs to make them both stronger and more efficient. So, let’s do this.”

While McCarthy called upon the president to work with the Republican party, the GOP leader proposed no specific measures to address the debt limit except to say it would not include Social Sec. McCarthy's remarks come one week after he first met with Biden to discuss the looming debt limit deadline.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

We did the right thing’: Biden says US relations with China not hurt by spy balloon

President Joe Biden said Monday that he doesn’t believe the spy balloon that the U.S. shot down from the Atlantic coast will weaken relations with China.

“We’ve made it clear to China what we’re going to do,” Biden told reporters after returning to the White House from Camp David. “They understand our position. We’re not going to back off. We did the right thing.”

China, which has denied the balloon was for spying, on Sunday condemned the action by the U.S. and said it reserves the right to “take further actions in response.”

Asked why China would commit “such a brazen act” like deploying a spy balloon across the continental U.S., Biden smiled and responded. “They’re the Chinese government.”

- Joey Garrison

White House offers little clarity on past spy balloon incidents under Trump administration

White House spokesman John Kirby provided little clarity over previous incidents of Chinese spy balloons, including three the administration has said happened when Donald Trump was president.

Kirby told reporters he couldn’t speak to “what awareness there was in the previous administration about these.”  All three balloons were in U.S. airspace for “brief periods,” unlike the latest balloon, which traveled across the U.S. for days, according to Kirby. He declined to say where the past incidents occurred.

Trump on Sunday denied the Defense Department’s claim that Chinese balloons entered the U.S. while he was president.

Key Trump administration officials have been offered briefings on what the Biden administration knows about the past events, Kirby said. He declined to specify whom the administration has reached out to and whether that includes Trump himself.

– Maureen Groppe

Top Georgia election official backs early primary – but not as soon as Biden wants

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger wants his state to become an early presidential primary host – just not in 2024, as President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are pushing.

The Republican election chief, who garnered attention for rebuffing then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 loss in Georgia, told The Associated Press he’d back an early primary in 2028.

It’s the first time Raffensperger, who sets Georgia’s primary election dates, has endorsed the idea of Georgia as an early nominating state, though not as soon as the Democratic National Committee and the White House want.

-- Caren Bohan

George Santos to bring former 9/11 rescue firefighter to State of the Union address

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., honored Michael Weinstock on the House floor Monday, announcing that he’ll bring the former volunteer firefighter who was at ground zero during the Sept. 11 attacks as his guest to the State of the Union Tuesday. Santos previously faced backlash after falsely implying that his mother died that day after being trapped in the South Tower of the World Trade Center when it was struck.

During his floor speech, Santos detailed Weinstock’s neuropathy diagnosis – a result of damage to the nerves near the brain and spinal cord – that has since been tied to 9/11 but has failed to be among the conditions covered by the World Trade Center Health Program despite past efforts to do so, the freshman lawmaker said.

“Michael had been unloading medical equipment out of an ambulance when the south tower crumbled and nearly crushed Michael to death. Today Michael suffers from a painful and incurable disease, neuropathy,” Santos said. “Since the World Trade Center Health Program does not cover neuropathy, people like Michael must pay out of pocket for treatment, medications and other medical needs.”

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

No thank you to another Biden campaign?

A majority of Democrats think one term is enough for President Joe Biden, even though he has hinted he will run for president again in 2024.

The new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows just 37% of Democrats say they want him to seek a second term, down from 52% in the weeks before last year’s midterm elections.

The poll suggests relatively few U.S. adults give him high marks on his legislative accomplishments either. Follow-up interviews with poll respondents suggest that many believe the 80-year-old’s age is a liability, with people focused on his coughing, his gait, his gaffes and the possibility that the world’s most stressful job would be better suited for someone younger.

-- The Associated Press

Biden's State of the Union address: What else to expect

A divided Congress. An expected upcoming re-election announcement. Those are the twin forces that will shape President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

Delivering the second State of the Union of his presidency, Biden will amplify his message that Democrats and Republicans can work together.

But facing dim prospects for more major legislative wins, a looming showdown over the federal budget and a GOP House investigating his administration and family, Biden will tout his successes and lay out what more he wants to do if given the chance.

– Maureen Groppe and Michael Collins

Is he running?: 5 big questions Joe Biden will answer in the State of the Union

President Joe Biden arrives in Hagerstown, Md., on Feb. 4, 2023.
President Joe Biden arrives in Hagerstown, Md., on Feb. 4, 2023.

Biden schedule this week

President Joe Biden's will travel to key states in the 2024 presidential map as he emphasizes his bipartisan message following the State of the Union address. He will discuss the economy and jobs in Madison, Wis., on Wednesday, and efforts to protect Social Security and Medicare during a trip to Tampa, Fla., on Thursday.

On Friday he meets with Brazil's President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, That meeting comes a month after supporters of the country's former president, Jair Bolsonaro, stormed Brazil's Congress.  The uprising drew international attention in part because

it was reminiscent of the violent Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, in the U.S.

-- Holly Rosenkrantz

House GOP investigations into Biden and White House ramp up

One political party controls the U.S. House, and the other party holds the presidency – so you know what that means.

It's time to investigate the president again.

House Republican investigators take a big public step Wednesday on that front when the House Oversight Committee holds a hearing on how Twitter handled news reports of Hunter Biden's laptop, which included some of his business records. The hearing is scheduled for the morning after Biden delivers his State of the Union address, and could take attention away from the messages from his speech that the White House wants to amplify.

– David Jackson and Candy Woodall

Hunter Biden's paintings can cost $500K: The GOP wants to know why

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, boards Air Force One with the president on Feb. 4, 2023,  in Syracuse, N.Y.
Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, boards Air Force One with the president on Feb. 4, 2023, in Syracuse, N.Y.

Biden hints at 2024 bid in Philadelphia

President Joe Biden has not announced a 2024 bid for the presidency, but his message to party loyalists this weekend was unmistakable.

"We're just getting started," Biden said at a Democratic National Committee meeting. "We've got a lot more to do."

Biden is expected to launch another White House bid in the coming months. His appearance before party leaders at a DNC function in Pennsylvania laid a foundation for reelection that the president is expected to build on next week in his State of the Union address.

– Francesca Chambers

'Four more years': Biden hints at 2024 as he rallies Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia

President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Philadelphia.
President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Philadelphia.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden's State of the Union overshadowed by spy balloon: recap