CBO report sets summer as timeframe for deal to avoid US default and raise debt ceiling: recap

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Debt ceiling default could come as soon as July.

The Congressional Budget Office Wednesday declared that the U.S. Treasury will run out of money to pay government bills such as Social Security and military paychecks by the summer unless lawmakers agree on a deal to raise the debt limit ceiling.

That doesn't leave much time to reach a deal and, as it turns out, there's not a lot of places Democrats and Republicans can agree to cut – at least in the short term.

Here's what else is happening in politics:

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen before the State of the Union address inside the House chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen before the State of the Union address inside the House chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington.

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Biden, McCarthy spar over debt after CBO releases new projections

President Joe Biden on Wednesday accused Republicans of supporting tax cuts for the wealthy and other policies that would add $3 trillion to the national debt, pushing back on their demands for spending cuts as part of raising the debt ceiling.

Biden, speaking at an electrical workers union hall in Lanham Md., singled out Republican efforts to extend expiring Trump-era tax cuts for high-income earners and corporations, which would add a projected $2.7 trillion in debt. “It would explode the deficit and leave the American taxpayer holding the bag,” he said.

His remarks came after the Congressional Budget Office released an updated budget outlook that projects the U.S. will add more than $19 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, $3 trillion more than was projected last year.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy fired back in a tweet, saying Biden’s policies have led to $13 trillion in new spending and renewing his call to “negotiate a responsible debt limit increase that gets our fiscal house back in order.”

“Democrats' reckless spending is plunging our country into deeper debt & jeopardizing our economy,” McCarthy said. “A blank check for more spending will destroy our country.”

– Joey Garrison

CBO: Debt ceiling deadline could strike as soon as July

The U.S. Treasury will run out of money to pay government bills such as Social Security and military paychecks this summer, but there's no way to tell exactly what day yet, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

If Congress doesn't raise the debt limit – the amount the U.S. can legally borrow – the "extraordinary measures" the Treasury is taking to pay America's bills will run out  between July and September, the CBO said in a new report Wednesday afternoon.

But there is no "X-date" in the report to mark the threshold for when the U.S. will run out of cash.

The CBO blames the uncertain date on upcoming revenue collections, especially how much the U.S. collects in taxes by the April due date. If the country takes in less than expected, the U.S. could run out of money before July.

– Candy Woodall

Hunter Biden’s art dealer tells House chairman to ask president’s son about paintings

Hunter Biden and Georges Berges at Hunter Biden’s art studio in Malibu, Calif.
Georges Berges Gallery in New York sells Hunter Biden’s paintings.
Hunter Biden and Georges Berges at Hunter Biden’s art studio in Malibu, Calif. Georges Berges Gallery in New York sells Hunter Biden’s paintings.

A lawyer for Hunter Biden’s art dealer has told a House committee it should seek information about the sales of paintings from the president's son, not the broker.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, asked New York art dealer Georges Berges for documents and testimony about who was buying Hunter Biden’s paintings and for how much. Comer voiced concerns the high prices could buy influence with the Biden administration.

But William Pittard, a lawyer for Berges, replied in a letter that Berges arranged to keep information about the art sales confidential to avoid ethical concerns with President Joe Biden. Pittard also cited a Supreme Court decision about demands from Comer’s panel in the investigation of former President Donald Trump that ruled “transactions by the President and his family” exceeded the House’s authority. Pittard suggested Comer pose his questions to Hunter Biden and his lawyer, Abbe Lowell.

The committee said in a statement Berges should abandon his delay tactics and produce the documents requested: "We find the objections unconvincing and incoherent."

– Bart Jansen

Art mystery: Hunter Biden's art dealer says his work is 'important.' Why the paintings factor into GOP probes.

How is fentanyl smuggled in the US? Lawmakers pose tough questions to stem the flow

Biden administration officials warned a key Senate panel Wednesday that a surge of illicitly manufactured fentanyl trafficked into the United States continues to claim lives and has contributed to "the worst drug crisis" the nation has ever seen.

More than 56,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids in 2020, including fentanyl — a more than 56% increase in overdose death rates from 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During a hearing Wednesday featuring key drug enforcement officials, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee demanded to hear ways to stem the flow of fentanyl into the country. Most of the fentanyl being trafficked into the country is mass-produced in labs in Mexico and made with from chemicals sourced from China, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

Opioid crisis: How is fentanyl smuggled in the US? Lawmakers are asking tough questions to stem the flow

House GOP subpoenas 5 tech CEOs over alleged suppression of conservatives

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks during a hearing with the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on February 9, 2023 in Washington.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks during a hearing with the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on February 9, 2023 in Washington.

Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, subpoenaed top executives of five tech companies to ask about interactions with the government and alleged suppression of conservatives.

Jordan, R-Ohio, said he is developing legislation to limit how much tech companies can restrict the circulation of content or remove users from their platforms. Jordan said Twitter recently set a benchmark for revealing its interactions with government requests to suppress content.

The subpoenas went to Timothy Cook, CEO of Apple; Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon; Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google; and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms, the parent of Facebook.

– Bart Jansen

Republican probes: Investigating the investigators: GOP creates panels to probe DOJ, China

Not just Haley: South Carolina's Tim Scott is also mulling presidential bid

Nikki Haley might not be the only politician from South Carolina to run for president in 2024.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the Senate's only Black Republican, has hired new political aides and is planning a trip to Iowa, all stoking speculation that he may also jump into next year's Republican race.

Scott allies are mum on whether he will take the plunge.

“These next few weeks Senator Scott will not just talk about his faith, but also why he has faith in America," said Jennifer DeCasper, a senior adviser to the South Carolina senator. "He is excited to share his vision of hope and opportunity and hear the American people’s response.”

Asked about Scott's campaign-like activity, aides stayed mum.

– David Jackson

Hawkeye haven: As GOP starting gate for 2024 presidential race, Iowa sees surge of announced and potential candidates

DOJ drops investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz without charges

The Justice Department has formally decided not to charge firebrand Rep. Matt Gaetz in a sex-trafficking investigation, the lawmaker's lawyers said Wednesday.

"We have just spoken with the DOJ and have been informed that they have concluded their investigation into Congressman Gaetz and allegations related to sex trafficking and obstruction of justice and they have determined not to bring any charges against him," attorneys Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner said.

Gaetz, R-Fla., has been under investigation for years for allegedly having sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl and allegedly paying for her to travel with him. But Gaetz, 40, who said he cooperated with federal investigators and strongly denied the allegations.

- Bart Jansen

Gaetz charges dropped: Justice Department drops sex-trafficking probe of Rep. Matt Gaetz without charges, lawyers say

Defense secretary: No unidentified objects in US airspace the last few days

The sky has been quiet since three unidentified objects were downed by U.S. fighter jets over the United States and Canada from Friday to Sunday, the head of the Defense Department said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters in Brussels Wednesday that no unidentified objects have been observed flying over the United States by the Pentagon the last few days.

"I'm not aware of any additional objects that have been reported operating in the space in the last 48 hours," Austin said.

–Tom Vanden Brook

Latest on flying objects: Unidentified flying objects might have been research or commercial balloons, White House says

Biden to argue Republican proposals would add $3 trillion to national debt

President Joe Biden plans to go on the offensive Wednesday in his standoff with Republicans over the debt ceiling, arguing that Republican proposals put forward this year would add $3 trillion in debt over the next decade.

Biden will make that case in a speech Wednesday afternoon at an electrical workers union hall in Lanham, Maryland, according to excerpts of the address provided by the White House. Biden will say his budget proposal, which he will release March 9, would cut the deficit by $2 trillion over 10 years, not raise any taxes on individuals earning less than $400,000 and “protect and strengthen” Social Security and Medicare.

– Joey Garrison

Biden national debt remarks come before budget forecast

Biden's remarks will come after the Congressional Budget Office is expected to release a budget forecast that will outline when Congress must raise the debt ceiling before the U.S. defaults on financial obligations.

The White House pointed to Republican efforts to extend expiring tax cuts for wealthy earners and corporations that passed under former President Donald Trump, which would add $2.7 trillion in debt. Republican-backed legislation that cleared the House to rescind IRS resources designed to crack down on tax cheats would add $144 billion in debt and a bill to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act would erase a new policy allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and raise the debt by $156 billion.

– Joey Garrison

Hitting the campaign trial, Nikki Haley pursues big-name endorsements

Nikki Haley has a lot to do to build support with Republican voters, and one of her methods was on display at her announcement event: Prominent endorsers.

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., the first member of the South Carolina congressional delegation to endorse the former governor, introduced Haley by saying that Donald Trump was "exactly" what the Republican Party needed back in 2016, but Haley is a "leader" for new times.

Another pre-speech speaker: Cindy Warmbier, whose 22-year-old son Otto died just days after North Korea released him from prison in 2017. She said the United States "would be lucky to have Nikki Haley in the White House."

Haley will also be pursuing endorsers during her upcoming trips to Iowa and New Hampshire.

– David Jackson, Mabinty Quarshie

Nikki Haley in 2024: Nikki Haley announces 2024 presidential bid in first major GOP challenge to Donald Trump

Nikki Haley looks for a GOP lane between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis

Now that she's in the Republican presidential race, Nikki Haley must find a way to crash a party primary field dominated by Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.

While touting her experience as the former governor of South Carolina and a former United Nations ambassador, Haley stresses something else: her relative youth.

"It's time for a new generation of leadership," Haley said in an announcement video put out a day before her announcement speech Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina.

– David Jackson, Mabinty Quarshie

As nation reels from Michigan shooting, courts wrestle with access to guns

Should the government be able to take guns from Americans who smoke marijuana? What about people who are the subject of domestic violence protective orders?

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia is grappling Wednesday with a case that questions whether Americans who have committed nonviolent felonies can be denied access to guns. It’s one of several such cases questioning who can be denied access to weapons that are percolating in federal courts in the wake of a landmark Supreme Court ruling last year on the Second Amendment.

The case in Philadelphia, which deals with a man who has been denied access to guns after making false statements to boost his food stamp assistance nearly three decades ago, comes as the nation is reeling from another mass shooting. Three Michigan State University students were killed and five others were wounded in a shooting Monday night.

– John Fritze

Gun access: As nation reels from Michigan State shooting, courts wrestle with access to guns

Will Republicans get the spending cuts they want?

As the country looks to avert a potentially catastrophic default, Republicans are threatening to not raise the federal debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to cut federal spending.

But President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy agree that Social Security and Medicare – which combined account for a third of federal spending alone – are off the table. And Republicans oppose cuts to Defense or veterans' programs, which make up another 15%.

With Democrats who control the Senate unwilling to go along with broad cuts to a number of social safety programs, there doesn't appear much for Congress to trim – at least not in the short run.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

What's at stake in debt ceiling talks: With debt ceiling deadline looming, will Republicans get the spending cuts they want?

4 Russian warplanes intercepted by American F-16 jets near Alaska

A pair of American F-16 jets intercepted four Russian warplanes in Alaska in what the North American Aerospace Defense Command on Tuesday called a “routine intercept.”

The Russian jets were detected and intercepted Monday in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, which is a zone beyond the border of American and Canadian sovereign airspace that is jointly monitored by the two nations.

Russian activity in the ADIZ “occurs regularly and is not seen as a threat, nor is the activity seen as provocative,” according to NORAD. Since 2007, a yearly average of six to seven intercepts of Russian jets have taken place in the zone, the organization said.

NORAD also said the interception is in “no way” related to the airborne objects in American airspace during the last two weeks.

– Ella Lee

NATO secretary general says military alliance will ‘step up’ support for Ukraine

As the first anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine approaches, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top official affirmed support for Ukraine by promising sustained support from the intergovernmental military alliance.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, said Wednesday after a meeting of NATO defense ministers that the alliance would work to bolster defense and boost industrial capacity to replenish arms and munitions, both generally and in Ukraine. He said action is paramount because of the “more dangerous world” in which we live today, citing Russia’s “aggressive” behavior, ongoing threats of terrorism and the “challenges” posed by China.

“Moscow underestimated #Ukraine's bravery & NATO unity,” Stoltenberg said in a Wednesday tweet. “We will step up & sustain our support for as long as it takes.”

– Ella Lee

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds could be a caucus kingmaker. Why she won't play favorites

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is always in demand ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, as candidates try to ingratiate themselves with the leader of the state party that will shape their political trajectory.

But Reynolds emerged from the COVID pandemic and the 2022 midterm election more polarizing yet more powerful, and Republicans say her new levels of political clout and popularity make her uniquely influential among the state's GOP base as the national spotlight turns, once again, to Iowa ahead of its 2024 presidential caucuses.

“I would say with a great deal of confidence that Kim Reynolds is the only person in the state of Iowa that could be a king or a queenmaker,” Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann said.

– Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register

Nicola Sturgeon to step down as Scotland's leader

Scotland's First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, is interviewed, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. Scotland’s leader said Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, that she will take the British government to court over its decision to block a Scottish law that makes it easier for people to change their gender on official documents.
Scotland's First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, is interviewed, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. Scotland’s leader said Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, that she will take the British government to court over its decision to block a Scottish law that makes it easier for people to change their gender on official documents.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, the head of the country’s independence movement for eight years, plans to resign.

The move was unexpected, and comes amid criticism in the country of her push to make it easier for people to legally change genders. She said the decision was not a reaction to political pressures.

– The Associated Press

Georgia grand jury concerned witnesses lied during Trump investigation

A special purpose grand jury in Georgia is concerned witnesses lied during its investigation of former President Donald Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the state's 2020 election, raising the specter of potential charges.

Descriptions of the alleged lies could be unveiled Thursday, when parts of the grand jury's long-awaited report on the Trump probe is made public. The witnesses won't be identified and no one has been charged yet. But prosecutors could pursue perjury charges as leverage to broaden the investigation, according to legal experts.

“That expands the scope of potential defendants quite a bit,” said Clark Cunningham, a law professor at Georgia State University. “It also opens up the possibility for the district attorney to proceed immediately with perjury indictments, which would be pretty straightforward.”

– Bart Jansen

Read the full story: Witnesses in Georgia Trump probe suspected of lying, raising more questions in closely watched inquiry

Jeff Zients, aka 'Mr. Fix-It,' takes on DC's most brutal job

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients speaks during a White House staff transition event in the East Room in Washington, DC on February 1, 2023.
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients speaks during a White House staff transition event in the East Room in Washington, DC on February 1, 2023.

Jeff Zients, a management expert and government official with a reputation for conquering the most impossible of tasks, embarked last week upon what may be his toughest challenge yet. He is the new White House chief of staff.

Zients is known for making things work. But the challenges he will face as chief of staff are like no challenges he has faced before.

The war in Ukraine shows no signs of ending. Fears the country could slip into a recession persist, with a government report released Tuesday showing that inflation is slowly easing but likely to keep prices elevated well into this year.

The administration is facing a showdown with congressional Republicans on raising the limit on how much money the government can borrow. House Republicans, emboldened by their new but razor-thin majority, are plotting a series of investigations into President Joe Biden and members of his family.

– Michael Collins

Who is Biden's new chief of staff?: Jeff Zients, aka 'Mr. Fix-It,' takes on DC's most brutal job

Mike Pence joins other potential presidential hopefuls in Iowa

Former Vice President Mike Pence tours the Iowa State Fair with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Aug. 19 in Des Moines.
Former Vice President Mike Pence tours the Iowa State Fair with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Aug. 19 in Des Moines.

Former Vice President Mike Pence is returning to Iowa this week, kicking off a surge of presidential caucus activity after a quiet start to the year.

Iowa Republicans will hold their traditional first-in-the-nation caucuses in early 2024, which serve as the starting line for the rest of the presidential primary cycle. A bevy of candidates are expected to compete, and they've been making inroads with the state's Republican elected officials and activists for months, if not years, as they weigh their plans.

Now, with former President Donald Trump formally in the race and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley officially launching her campaign, activity in the Hawkeye State is ramping up.

– Brianne Pfannenstiel

More: As GOP starting gate for 2024 presidential race, Iowa sees surge of announced and potential candidates

Feinstein will not run again in 2024

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., arrives for the Senate Democratic Caucus leadership election at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., arrives for the Senate Democratic Caucus leadership election at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.

Democrat Dianne Feinstein, California’s longest serving senator, is forgoing reelection.

“I am announcing today I will not run for reelection in 2024, but intend to accomplish as much for California as I can through the end of next year when my term ends,” Feinstein said in a statement Tuesday.

The decision shakes up the 2024 Senate map as multiple Democrats — including Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff — have either announced or are reportedly considering their bids to succeed the longtime senator, who had been dogged by questions about her ability to serve.

– Phillip M. Bailey

More: Dianne Feinstein, California's longest serving senator, won't seek reelection in 2024

Biden renews calls to ban assault weapons after Michigan State shooting

Michigan State University students hug during an active shooter situation on campus on February 13, 2023 in Lansing, Michigan.
Michigan State University students hug during an active shooter situation on campus on February 13, 2023 in Lansing, Michigan.

President Joe Biden renewed his call to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines after a shooting at Michigan State University killed three people and injured five others.

“I’m going to say something that’s always controversial,” Biden said Tuesday in remarks addressing the National Association of Counties in Washington. "There is no rationale for assault weapons and magazines that hold 50, 70 bullets.”

Biden’s push to reenact a ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2004, is unlikely to pass a Republican-led House and even faces an uphill climb in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

– Joey Garrison

More: President Biden says 'no rationale for assault weapons' after Michigan State University shooting

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Recap: CBO report sets summer as timeframe for deal on debt